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Diversity Action Plan Goal 3

Diversity Action Plan Goal 3

Create a welcoming college climate to support a sense of belonging, and equitable learning and training experiences.

Elisar Barbar analyzing lab results with graduate students in her lab.

How to read what follows

We set out an ambitious agenda for embedding equity, access, and inclusion in all that we do in the College of Science. Recognizing that actions must be prioritized, we indicate those actions that will be taken first with a double asterisk **. We note that we will follow an adaptive implementation strategy in executing this DAP in which our prioritized actions marked by ** may adaptively evolve in an evidence-based approach. In what follows, “unit” refers to a department, center, or research facility in the college. In addition, for these purposes, the dean’s office is also a unit.

Climate refers to the way that an organization is perceived and experienced by its individual members. Climate influences whether individuals feel valued, listened to, respected, personally safe and treated with fairness and dignity within an organization.

In Goal 3, we propose actions that challenge the “traditional” notion of a scientist to foster a sense of belonging for all learners, educators and researchers. Departmental climate has a significant impact on the sense of belonging and success of student education and learning as well as faculty and staff job satisfaction. We propose actions that enhance departmental climate by promoting productive and constructive dialogue and building trust and respect for all members of our community.

The actions under this goal will improve climate and create a sense of belonging, thus improving work performance, increasing job satisfaction and aiding in retaining diverse students and employees. The actions aim to boost learning, helping prepare our graduates effectively and increasing our reputation.

Proposed actions

3.1. Create a framework to assess sense of belonging.** Our community consists of science faculty and students and science educators who are involved in providing tools for success to our students and other researchers and staff that are engaged in OSU’s land grant mission and furthering the R1 research mission of OSU. To amplify the voices of our underrepresented students, faculty and staff in the goals, values and mission of our college and respect their unique skills and perspectives, the EAI Council will engage in the following activities:

  • Create climate survey instruments** to annually track progress around questions of belonging and strive for continuous improvement in the lived experiences of minoritized members. Reports on how sense of belonging is assessed will be made available by the EDCC. The EAI Council will partner with OID in this effort.
  • Break down hierarchical barriers. The EAI Council will deliberate and identify practices and current cultural norms that act as barriers to achieving a shared vision. The council will recommend an outwardly visible code of mutual respect for all roles and responsibilities in order to devise and implement measures to break down these barriers.
  • Develop welcoming and equitable classrooms. Working with partners across campus, the EAI Council will provide support opportunities for faculty to create welcoming environments in their classroom and other spaces, by identifying systems and structures that impede student development.
  • Improve departmental climate and collegiality.** Both explicit and formal structures such as policies and procedures, as well as informal and implicit norms including symbolic elements, cultural aspects and hidden messages shape the lived experiences of minoritized community members that are frequently detrimental to engagement, career advancement and retention. The EAI Council will create opportunities for the college community to deliberate and identify problems related to work climate on an ongoing basis and develop and recommend collaborative solutions using a shared governance model.

3.2. Broaden the ‘image’ of a scientist.** To ensure inclusion of minoritized communities that face systemic barriers to successful careers in science, the EAI Council will engage in activities that:

  • Actively promote a broader image of what a scientist looks like. Unit EAI committees will ensure the inclusion of speakers from minoritized groups when organizing departmental seminars that span a diversity of careers relevant to the discipline. The EAI Council will ensure such inclusion in events organized at the college level.
  • Build community, respect, trust and value people.** Units EAI committees will develop a plan for enhancing community building based on the climate assessment conducted by the EAI Council, including regular meetings to discuss EAI development at individual and unit level and scheduling unit level meetings to have open discussions on issues affecting unit level processes.
  • Develop shared learning communities. The EAI Council will promote opportunities for groups in the college to develop shared learning communities for people to connect their identity and their lived experiences with their work.

3.3. Promote learning opportunities around intersectional issues.** The EAI Council, GEC and unit EAI committees will provide learning opportunities for all faculty, staff and students in the college around systemic issues that aim to:

  • Develop disability consciousness** by partnering with the Disability Access Services (DAS) Office, the Office of Student life and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). These opportunities will aim to provide information about policies, campus support for students with disabilities and help faculty develop best practices to help disabled students in their classes and research.
  • Develop understanding of systemic gender and sexual identity issues in science by partnering with OID and other campus partners. The aim of this learning opportunity is for college members to understand the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community in science and how people can provide support to improve outcomes.
  • Combat gender-based harassment** by partnering with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access to provide continuing education for all units. The EAI Council and GEC should assess via climate surveys how effective these learning opportunities are in mitigating gender-based harassment and improving the lived experiences of people with marginalized genders in the college.

3.4. Enhance and equalize the student experience** in all aspects, including the educational experience, research and professional development opportunities available to students. The EAI Council will develop a needs and assessment survey with disciplinary focus provided by the unit EAI committees to assess student needs both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The EAI Council will make recommendations to the dean and college leadership for adapting and refining student program elements in the college. The activities in this action include:

  • Re-evaluating qualifying exams, specifically the purpose, need and validity of timed and written qualifying exams in all units in the College of Science that offer a PhD program. For students in the college to have an equitable experience, the college needs consistency across admissions as well as retention criteria.
  • Creating paid research, capstone and internship experiences for minoritized student populations.** The EAI Council will partner with the Science Success Center, OSU Foundation, the Office of Academic Affairs and others across campus along with industry partners to increase co-curricular opportunities for minoritized student groups for increased engagement in science, developing science identities early on in the students’ programs and aiding retention of minoritized students.