Goals and updates
- In last year’s community climate survey many individuals commented about the existence of an ableist culture in our community, including a lack of support and curriculum for students with disabilities. We have taken multiple steps (listed below) to begin addressing this. If you have ideas or feedback on how we can improve accessibility in our community, please get in contact with our Geoscience For All Committee.
- The DGSE Graduate Faculty are actively working on revising our curriculum to make it more accessible. We have had several meetings of faculty who are involved in teaching our field courses, as well as multiple meetings of our entire graduate faculty. There is broad support among the faculty to make our field courses fully accessible, as well as to introduce additional field-adjacent skills such as GIS and remote sensing into our curriculum. Curriculum changes are slow to implement due to the need for approval from various bodies within the NSHE system, but we hope to announce official curriculum changes in Fall 2023. We recognize that these changes will be implemented too late for students who are currently enrolled in field courses. In these cases, DGSE is providing accommodations on a case-by-case basis for any student who needs them. If you would like more information about accommodations, please e-mail our DGSE Department Chair, Paula Noble.
- We invited a disabled student who is doing research on accessibility across the University campus to share their research results and lived experiences with the Geoscience For All Committee. This resulted in a list of easy to implement on-campus accessibility tips which we are in the process of posting on our website and which we shared with our faculty. To help share these tips more widely, we worked with the student and College of Science communications team to publish a Nevada Today article on this topic (which includes the accessibility tips)
- Last year’s climate survey also had comments about a lack of social events that is leading to increased isolation among our different geoscience units and between undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff. Some ways that this has been addressed include:
- The graduate student club (SAGE) has held approximately once per month ‘bagel and coffee hours’ where all geoscience community members are invited to mingle.
- In December of 2022, graduate students and undergrads who are part of the Geoscience For All Committee ran an undergrad / grad student coffee and conversation session in the DeLaMare library. This event was designed to give undergraduate students a chance to meet graduate students and ask questions related to career advice, applying to graduate school, and anything else on their minds. It was held in the DeLaMare library, as that is a location where many of our undergraduate students spend time studying. The event was well attended, and the organizers plan to continue these approximately once per month in Spring 2023.
- Planned for the future: Several of our faculty members are exploring the possibility of offering a 1 unit, weekend field trip course where both undergraduate and graduate students can attend and learn about regional geology. While this hasn’t happened yet, we hope the implementation of something like this in the future can provide an informal environment for many members of our community to interact in a casual environment while learning some local geology.
- We’re participating in the NSF-funded GEOAllies project. This project provides funding to improve diversity and inclusion in the field-based geosciences, and we are using the funding to provide scholarships to our summer field camp. More information is on our summer field camp page.
- Our Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences (URGE) Pod has continued to meet on a bi-monthly basis. This has created a community for interested students, faculty, and staff to read papers and watch talks, educating ourselves about racism in the geosciences. Our URGE Pod is also working on a resource map document with links to useful information about departmental, university and community resources and procedures that will be published online shortly.
- Our graduate student club (SAGE) and our Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences (URGE) Pod worked together to host a bagel and coffee hour in celebration of the International Day of LGBTQ+ People in STEM in November. This event was well attended, and, using funding from the College of Science, we were able to provide free bagels, coffee, and LGBTQ+ pins and stickers to attendees. Associated with this event, our URGE pod designed flyers to hang up in our buildings with information about Transgender Day of Rememberence and provide information about LGBTQ+ resources on campus and in the greater Reno area. DGSE Grad Student, Vivian Rosas, also write a blog for the Nevada Today covering the event to help provide wider awareness.
- In May of 2022 we had the inaugural presentation of the Make-A-Difference Award for dedication to community-building activities in the Geosciences. To help celebrate this event, we invited USC Assistant Professor Emily Cooperdock to visit our department to give both a science-based seminar and hold a lunchtime discussion on diversity in the geosciences. In addition to producing outstanding research, Dr. Cooperdock has been a leader in increasing diversity in the geosciences (see her webpage for some examples)
- We have continued several activities we started in previous years. This includes:
- Inviting diverse speakers to our department seminars, and giving speakers the opportunity to give presentations or hold discussions on DEI, in addition to science seminars.
- Promoting our Code of Conduct, and asking all faculty to go over the Code of Conduct on the first day of class and to include it in the class syllabus.
- Coordinating a semester-long onboarding class for new graduate students, designed to cover areas that are important for success in graduate school, but are not often taught (e.g., maintaining work-life balance, scientific ethics, discussion of resources available to students, and more).
- Creating a public list of all available graduate positions in our department and advertising these on our website and multiple list-servs, including list-servs targeting historically-excluded groups in the geosciences.
- We’ve created and publicly posted our Code of Conduct. In spring 2022 we asked all faculty to cover the Code of Conduct in their classes and with their research groups.
- In fall 2021, we held our first, semester-long onboarding class for new graduate students. In this class we covered aspects ranging from how to be successful in research, establishing a work–life balance, resources available at the University of Nevada, Reno, and more. Feedback from this class was largely positive, and we will continue to offer it every fall semester.
- We are currently conducting our second annual Geoscience Community Climate Survey. We elected to move these surveys to start of the spring semester, so that individuals who join our community in the fall semester will have had some time on campus before participating in the survey.
- Our URGE Pod is continuing to meet, and we presented a poster on progress from our URGE Pod and Geoscience For All Committee at the AGU Fall Meeting in New Orleans in December 2021.
- For fall 2022 admissions, we created a list of faculty seeking graduate students and advertised this on multiple list-servs (including list-servs aimed at individuals from populations which have been historically excluded from the geosciences) in fall 2021.
- In the coming year, we hope to develop a department-wide system Individual Development Plans that can be used as part of annual committee meetings for all our students. We are also exploring the possibility of applying for NSF funds to support our diversity and outreach efforts.
- We’ve formed an Unlearning Racism is the Geosciences (URGE) pod. URGE is a NSF-sponsored initiative designed specifically for geoscience communities to learn about racism (via reading literature, interviews with experts, and discussion/sharing of personal experiences), and develop anti-racist policies (‘deliverables’) that can be implemented within our community. Details about our Pod, and our deliverables are being posted on the URGE website and will be incorporated onto this website at the end of the spring term. If you’re interested in joining the pod, please e-mail Joel Scheingross
- The DGSE faculty is instituting a review of its bylaws with a focus on incorporating a commitment to DEI principles directly in the bylaws. This review will be completed in late spring or early summer.
- SAGE (Student Association of Geosciences and Engineering) launched a graduate student mentoring program where early graduate students could be paired with senior students to serve as mentors on issues related to research, navigating grad school, and more.
- We updated our graduate admission webpage to include general tips for creating a successful, and created an additional page of tips for contacting faculty mentors.
- We are creating a new 1 unit course for incoming graduate students to promote successful onboarding of new students. In this 1 hour per week course, students will get the opportunity to meet with all the graduate faculty and hear details of their career paths and general tips for success in graduate school. The course will also include discussion of issues of mental health and work/life balance while a graduate student, dealing with finances, and more via both guest speakers from relevant campus centers and conversations with faculty.
- We are creating a Code of Conduct for our Geoscience community that will be easily found on the DGSE website.
- Following up on one of our goals for the 2020-2021 academic year, the DGSE graduate faculty have voted to remove the GRE requirement from graduate admissions.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our September 2020 Geoscience Community climate survey. View the 2020 survey results.
- We have also released our statistics on ethnicity and gender of DGSE students. Please note that these statistics come from federal reporting data, which requires binary gender identity. The DGSE faculty have made a request to the university administration to expand the gender-identity definitions to include gender non-binary options.
Goals for academic year 2020-2021
- Report survey results and use these results to start an open dialogue with our community members (and any other interested parties) to guide our efforts. Goal completed and dialogue ongoing, view the 2020 survey results here.
- Implement a number of actions to reduce barriers to entry for underrepresented students in the geosciences including:
- Revise our undergraduate curriculum 1 to make it more flexible, accessible, and provide options for students to pursue a geoscience-related career through non-field-centered coursework.
- We plan to remove the GRE requirement for all graduate admissions 1 as part of the US geoscience community’s effort to promote inclusion and diversity in geosciences. Goal completed: the GRE is no longer required for graduate admission.
- Apply to join the American Geophysical Union Bridge Program in October 2021. This program is focused specifically on implementing best “practices for recruiting, admitting and retaining women and underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate programs.”
- Work with the Student Association of Geoscience and Engineering (SAGE) to institute several programs including:
- A mentoring program for undergraduate and graduate students, where students can be mentored by a more senior student or a faculty member. Goal partially completed: a graduate student mentoring program was implemented by SAGE in Fall 2020.
- A Camping 101 course and a field/camping gear swap/borrow exchange so that students without a background in the outdoors have access to the knowledge and equipment to engage in field geology excursions safely and comfortably.
- Monitor and contribute to the work of the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (IAGD) and similar organizations that find solutions for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field.
- Work to improve the accessibility of our department field trips through mechanisms such as vehicle-accessible locations, restroom availability, and tour guide audio systems, to make the field environment more accessible and comfortable for all.
- In collaboration with SAGE, hold workshops and compile resources on our website for success in undergraduate and graduate degrees, including funding opportunities, career opportunities, strategies for dealing with stress, imposter syndrome, strategies for success, and more. Work in progress: starting in Fall 2021 a new, 1-unit course will be required for incoming graduate students where these issues will be addressed and the graduate students will be able to hear tips for success in graduate school from a wide variety of the graduate faculty.
- Increase the diversity of our invited seminar speakers, and give all speakers the option of devoting time during their science seminar to also share personal stories, successes, or failures related to DEI. Work in progress: The Fall and Spring seminar series each saw increases in speaker diversity, and multiple speakers directly addressed DEI issues either in their seminar or in a second talk on DEI-related issues and general tips for success in science. We will continue to work to have a diverse lineup of seminar speakers.
- Compile resources for outreach opportunities in the greater Reno area, including existing University programs, K-12 education, public libraries and other community events, and encourage our faculty (and interested students) to engage in community outreach. Goal completed: a compilation of resources is available here we will continue to update this list as new resources become available.
- Work with our faculty members to revise our DGSE bylaws 1 to include and value DEI-related activities as part of the job description of all DGSE faculty members. Work ongoing: The faculty is reviewing our bylaws and hopes to vote on new material in late spring or early summer 2021
- Implement a new DGSE award to be given to anyone in the greater University geoscience community who demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within our community. Work ongoing: We expect to announce the creation of a new award in mid-spring 2021.
- Work with our alumni, the Mackay School, and the University's development office to obtain both merit and need-based funding to support student costs associated with field equipment and field camp.
1These items require approval by a formal vote of the DGSE faculty before they can be implemented. The Geoscience For All Committee will work with all DGSE faculty to implement these goals.
Are you interested in getting involved in DEI activities? Or do you have ideas for ways to increase DEI in our department? E-mail our Geoscience For All Committee Chair, Joel Scheingross for more information.