Goals and updates

March 2021: 

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. We are creating a Code of Conduct for our Geoscience community that will be easily found on the DGSE website.

November 2020: 

  1. 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.
  2. Thank you to everyone who participated in our September 2020 Geoscience Community climate survey. View the 2020 survey results.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2.  Implement a number of actions to reduce barriers to entry for underrepresented students in the geosciences including:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.”
    4. Work with the Student Association of Geoscience and Engineering (SAGE) to institute several programs including:
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5.  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.
  6.  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
  7. 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.
  8. 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 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 for more information.