GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 57-3
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


MENOLD, Carrie1, MACRIS, Catherine A.2, BRAMSON, Ali3, CRUZ, Miguel2, DRUSCHEL, Gregory2, GILHOOLY III, William2, JOHNSON, Brandon C.3, LEE-CULLIN, Joseph1, LICHT, Kathy2, MARRS, Ian2, MCRIVETTE, Michael1, THOMPSON, Michelle3 and WANG, Lixin2, (1)Earth & Environment, Albion College, Albion, MI 49224, (2)Department of Earth Sciences, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, 723 W Michigan Street, SL118, Indianapolis, IN 46202, (3)Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907

The MEGA (Midwest Equity in Geosciences Alliance) URGE pod consists of 16 faculty, staff, and graduate students from Albion College, IUPUI, and Purdue University, led by Dr. Catherine Macris (IUPUI). The pod met biweekly and collaborated on discussions of the readings and deliverables (produced separately by each institution). The active exchange of ideas, experiences, challenges, and solutions between institutions was valuable, encouraging, and energizing. Challenges identified were often linked to communication and institutional structures that de-incentivized this work. The three institutions are highlighted below.

Albion is a private, liberal arts college in a small town. In response to a significant increase in student diversity since 2015, the department has worked to make its curriculum more accessible and has increased its BIPOC student population to ~30%. URGE participation informed development and initiation of an action plan focused on engagement, communication, field safety, curricular revision, and a department code of conduct. This plan was selected as a model for a wider campus effort to increase DEIB.

IUPUI is a large, urban public research university. Graduate students, staff, and more than half of the department’s faculty participated in URGE. All reported that this diversity of perspectives fostered more enriching discussion. Creating the deliverables allowed them to interrogate their practices and policies internally while having the benefit of learning from other institutions in the pod. IUPUI will commit department time to disseminate this work and develop strategies and action plans for transformational change.

Purdue is a public, land-grant research university located in a small city. Purdue had two URGE pods (faculty in MEGA; students and postdocs in a separate pod supported by faculty advisors) as well as an active departmental DEI committee. Purdue created and will implement a Department Code of Conduct, made inclusion efforts explicit in their outward facing communication, addressed graduate salary and benefits, and conducted numerous anti-racism trainings and discussion forums.

Members of MEGA agree that experiencing the URGE curriculum as a multi-institution pod spurred rich discussions, new ideas, and progress towards increasing DEIB efforts at member institutions.