Recent events have highlighted the racial inequalities that continue to exist in the United States and around the world. The Department of Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina recognizes the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), in the sciences that is born out of this environment. Consequently, we are making a commitment to expand our efforts to enhance DEI, especially in support of groups underrepresented in the sciences (Bernard and Cooperdock, 2018) –and at this moment in history, with an emphasis on Black and Native American communities. We echo the statements that have been made by UNC leadership, as well as our colleagues at peer institutions and professional organizations like the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Geological Society of America (GSA), Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) and many others. We recognize the need to do more.
We vow to advocate for change at Carolina, other higher education institutions, and within our professional organizations. We are also actively taking concrete steps to address issues of DEI in our department, as well as the history of endemic racism in the sciences at-large. As such, we have compiled a DEI Action Plan outlining 28 items designed to achieve our DEI goals; some are already underway, others will be implemented on a timescale indicated, and several more are continual or longer-term initiatives that we will work toward in the coming months and years. In addition, we will establish a baseline relative to which we will measure progress, incorporate feedback regularly received during action item implementation, and conduct an annual assessment of progress that will be made available to everyone in the department.
We acknowledge that some individuals feel the departmental response has been slow moving; we are committed to moving more swiftly going forward. Though our external response was not immediate, we worked to compile this suite of achievable action items built on internal feedback and external research. We are eager to do as much as we can, and are open to productive suggestions or feedback that will assist us in affecting real and lasting change. With this in mind, please consider sharing your ideas anonymously with department leadership here.
In our department’s continued commitment to inclusion, the goal of this subcommittee is to increase diversity within our graduate student population. We hope to achieve this by active recruitment of URM students, promoting career paths in Environmental Science fields. We aim to reduce the obstacles for URM students to enter graduate school by providing research experiences and mentoring that will make them more competitive when applying to graduate school programs and by identifying and obtaining sources of funding for their post-graduate education. We want to identify and implement practices that will promote a positive and inclusive working environment for URM graduate students of all backgrounds.
Our goal is to increase diversity by engaging diverse community college students in Carteret, Onslow, Jones, Craven, and Pamlico counties to broadly foster an interest in marine and environmental science, and to specifically facilitate work and study opportunities at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS). We will do this by (1) encouraging graduating students with associate’s degrees to transfer to UNC for continued education, (2) seeking to hire current community college students in laboratories, (3) partnering local community college courses with programs, lectures, and other engagement events.
Organize the research mentorship effort of individual labs to generate a unified mechanism that recruits underrepresented students and matches them with a lab group/mentor that can provide a supported and inclusive research experience.
This committee will help build an inclusive environment in our department by organizing trainings that allow people to recognize their implicit biases, learn actionable strategies to prevent/limit biases from affecting decision-making, recognize and prevent the occurrence of microaggressions, value the strength of diverse teams, and promote underrepresented voices in our field.
Our group is committed to inspiring K-12 students to pursue careers in marine and geosciences. Our approach is simply to increase exposure among young URM students by sharing the exciting and impactful research we do. Our current project involves creating a Virtual Lab Tour to highlight the research that students and faculty are involved in. This group also aims to increase access to resources for URM students to pursue marine and geoscience undergraduate programs. By increasing interest and access to young scientists, this group hopes to increase diversity among graduate recruits.
This committee aims to promote a supportive, inclusive, and positive culture in our department through the following avenues: 1) developing and improving support structures for current and incoming students; 2) recognizing accomplishments in the department as a whole; 3) sharing and advertising the resources that exist university-wide; 4) promote interactions between students both on- and off-campus; and 5) find ways for increased communication between students/staff/faculty in an informal/unofficial way. We have created a Slack channel as a way to increase communication among students/staff/faculty and you can join it by emailing Chad Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jana Haddad (email@example.com) to add you!
Chad Lloyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)