Seed Grant Award: Building an Inclusive Climate in Chemistry Through Anti-racism Training

Ruben Gonzalez, Timothy Berkelbach, Luis Campos, Ann McDermott, Tomislav Rovis (Chair), Neel Shah, Chemistry

Gonzalez Seed Grant

For more than two years now, the Department of Chemistry has been deeply engaged in assessing and improving its department culture and climate. The foundation for this work is a Department Climate Self-Survey that we conducted in Spring 2019. As part of this work, last year we established a departmental Committee for Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity (CIED) and we successfully applied for and received an A&S Equity and Diversity Events Pilot Program Grant to bring Prof. Vicki Magley from the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Connecticut at Storrs to our department to present a workshop entitled “What You Need to Know About Sexual Harassment”. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others have only emboldened our resolve to continue this work and, more specifically, to tightly focus it on issues of racial justice and equity in our department. To this end, we have organized departmental forums on systemic racism in our field, ongoing and to-be-developed outreach efforts, and the graduate admissions process. Furthermore, three members of our department, Profs. Virginia Cornish, Ruben Gonzalez, and Timothy Berkelbach participated in the Mini-Institute on Addressing Anti-Black Racism that was recently organized by the Columbia University School of Social Work.

In order to enact what we learned in the mini-institute and leverage it for meaningful change to our department culture and climate, here we propose to invite a leading organization in the area of racial justice and equity to develop and execute an interactive training for all members of our department, including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, tenure or tenure-track faculty, teaching faculty, and staff. The overall purpose of this training is to formally instruct us on best practices for establishing and maintaining a department culture and climate that promotes diversity, advances equity, and fosters inclusion, a community where all members are welcomed, respected, and valued.

This project was funded through the Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.