DEI News 2021
We have spent the past year building the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in the Chemistry Department. Though we look forward to meeting face to face soon, the committee consisting of faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and undergraduate students has been building camaraderie in a virtual space. We are committed to implementing evidence-based practices as they apply across all aspects of department life, including recruitment and retention, teaching practices, curriculum development, community building, and community outreach.
The importance of language
Whenever committing to DEI work, one must be clear with their language. By diversity, equity, and inclusion we mean the following:
- Diversity: Recognize and value the array of individual differences (e.g. personality, prior knowledge, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g. race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations).1,2
- Equity: Promote fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement of all people while also working to identify and remove barriers that have prevented full participation by some groups, especially those who have been historically underrepresented, including women and people of color.1,2
- Inclusion: Proactive efforts through active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity to ensure that faculty, staff, and students in the department experience a sense of belonging, high levels of engagement, and shared respect.1,2
Based on feedback from initial surveys and conversations, we established the subcommittees below. Each subcommittee worked to identify short and long-term SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.
- Creating DEI throughout the department: hiring diverse faculty/staff; recruitment/retention of students from historically underrepresented groups; etc.
- Emphasizing DEI across the curriculum: seminar speakers; instruction/course structure; course content; etc.
DEI in action
Several new activities and initiatives were subsequently undertaken. We have started a DEI Symposium that consists of a scientist giving a technical talk during a disciplinary seminar and a talk highlighting their work associated with DEI issues during the departmental colloquium. An honorarium is also provided. Our inaugural DEI Symposium speaker was Dr. Rigoberto Hernandez, Gompf Family Professor of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University and Director of the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE). During the physical chemistry seminar, Dr. Hernandez presented “Spiral feedback between computation and experiment at the nano-bio interface.” During the departmental colloquium, he presented “Advancing Chemistry Through Diversity,” discussing OXIDE’s efforts to work with department heads of research-active chemistry departments to promote institutional reform so as to lower inequitable barriers hindering the success of faculty from diverse groups. The interim department head and several other faculty members were able to attend the virtual offering of OXIDE’s National Diversity Equity Workshop in April.
Other activities have included developing goals for our seminar program to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- An example implementation has been including photos of seminar speakers in all announcements.
- The department has been working to re-establish the student chapter of National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).
- Tenured and professional track faculty members participated in the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) training, specifically the Entering Mentoring Training for Faculty (https://cimerproject.org/entering-mentoring/).
- We are working with CIMER to establish NC State as a Culturally-Aware Mentoring (CAM) Training study site.
- We are planning a mentor program for undergraduates that would pair graduate students and upper-class undergraduates with a group of first-year undergraduate students.
- Additionally, several members of the department have participated in the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Initiative @ NC State, including attending Introduction to Systemic Racism hosted by Crossroads, attending the Introduction to Courageous ConversationsTM workshop hosted by Courageous ConversationsTM, and ongoing Diversity and Inclusion reflection meetings.