GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 57-7
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


ALLEN, Jordan, LEHNIGK, Karin, BARANES, Hannah, BOWLICK, Forrest J., BROWN, Laurie L., FATTARUSO, Laura, GRISWOLD, Frances, MCKEON, Kelly, SADAI, Shaina and SMITH, Rebecca, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Geosciences, 611 North Pleasant Street, 233 Morrill Science Center, Amherst, MA 01003-9297

The Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Amherst participated in the Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) reading and action group from January to May of 2021. The UMass URGE pod, composed of ~13 members of the department across roles and responsibilities, participated in the URGE curriculum through weekly Zoom meetings, group Google Document work, and continuous engagement with department and university leadership. Our URGE work built on previous efforts in the department to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive department that honors the legacy of former faculty Dr. Bill Bromery, the first Black chancellor to lead a predominantly white institution (UMass). Recent efforts include a transition to a holistic graduate admissions process, departmental professional development workshops, innovative graduate curriculum, ‘Can We Talk’ workshops facilitated by Dr. Kendall Moore, Bromery lectures, and establishment of a department workplace climate committee. In addition, a diversity, inclusion, and pedagogy seminar has provided a valuable trans-discipline forum for students and faculty to discuss literature, practices, and frameworks for DEI teaching and learning. We found the URGE curriculum valuable for our efforts to make resources accessible and highlight impactful next steps. These successes were balanced with challenges, including lack of engagement of faculty outside of the pod, communicating our work, and enlisting support from decision makers. Importantly, URGE helped our Pod identify areas of improvement within our department, prompting numerous action items for Fall of 2021. These include: 1) posting detailed flyers on where and how to report acts of discrimination and marginalization, 2) a semesterly survey of faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate, and undergraduate students within the Department to track DEI impact, 3) host a departmental seminar to explain our work and invite others to participate, and 4) continue working with department leadership to institute a code of conduct. This presentation illustrates the chronology of DEI efforts within UMass Geosciences. Our goal is to continue to build on the legacy of Dr. Bill Bromery. We present this work as a geologic-style timeline with perturbations to the status quo steady state.