Commitment to diversity, equality and justice
The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering seeks to foster an environment where our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members at large feel valued and welcome within the department regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, nationality, veteran status, socio-economic status, political beliefs, physical or cognitive ability, and age. We recognize that our department, and the geosciences in general, do not reflect the diversity in northern Nevada nor the country at large. This fundamentally limits the success of our department, both in terms of advancing the scientific questions that we are passionate about, as well as in providing high-quality education and training for our community. We are committed to increasing equity, inclusivity, diversity and justice within our department so that individuals who are currently underrepresented can feel not only comfortable, but also thrive within our greater UNR geoscience community. We have much to learn, and we will work to elevate minority and indigenous voices. We seek to gratefully acknowledge our opportunities to live and work on the sacred ancestral lands of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe peoples. We endeavor to work in collaboration with Native Sovereign Nations in all of our activities, at home and abroad. While we have a long road ahead of us to create a department that reflects the diversity of our community, below we outline specific, concrete actions to increase diversity within the geosciences through time.
Immediate actions (as of August 2020)
- We have begun a survey of our students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty, and staff (that closes on Oct. 1, 2020), and will continue to survey our community on an annual basis. These surveys will be anonymous and are designed to help highlight existing issues that hinder our progress towards a welcoming, diverse, and just environment. The surveys will allow our community members to provide anonymous feedback and ideas to help increase diversity and promote thoughtful dialogue within our community. Results from these surveys will be reported (in aggregate) on this website.
- We have formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee, which will have students, faculty, and community representatives. The DEI committee will be a point source where individuals can report concerns or ideas, and will work to implement the actions listed on this page. As of August 13, 2020, the DEI committee consists of Wenrong Cao, Michael Darin, Michael Gardner, Stacia Gordon, Joel Scheingross, and Pooja Sheevam. If you’re interested in joining the committee (undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and other UNR geoscience community members are welcome), please e-mail the committee chair, Joel Scheingross.
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.
- Implement a number of actions to reduce barriers to entry for underrepresented students in the geosciences including:
- Revise our undergraduate curriculum1 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 admissions1 as part of the US geoscience community’s effort to promote inclusion and diversity in geosciences.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Compile resources for outreach opportunities in the greater Reno area, including existing UNR programs, K-12 education, public libraries and other community events, and encourage our faculty (and interested students) to engage in community outreach.
- Work with our faculty members to revise our DGSE bylaws1 to include and value DEI-related activities as part of the job description of all DGSE faculty members.
- Implement a new DGSE award to be given to anyone in the greater UNR geoscience community who demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within our community.
- Work with our alumni, the Mackay School, and the UNR 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 DEI 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 DEI Committee Chair, Joel Scheingross (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.