Inclusion Action Plan

In June 2021, the Environmental Studies Department committed to an Inclusion Action Plan with the explicit goal to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty and staff.

While we recognize that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) is an on-going project, our plan helps us outline a number of goals to activate and speak to our commitment. Below are three examples that speak to some of these goals:

  1. Instituting a Student Advisory Board

The Student Advisory Board compromises of six students who volunteered to serve as liaisons between the student and faculty. They self-identified as interested in this work after taking a student survey administered to all our majors and minors asking for their anonymous feedback on the Department’s current efforts at DEIB.

Through bi-weekly conversations the students on the board have been busy in a number of ways—from meeting with faculty to explore curriculum changes, to engaging ways to enhance co-curriculum activities. In terms of the latter, some of the work of the Board includes:

  • An ES Department LinkedIn page that connects alums to current students
  • A Google calendar that showcases important activities and events
  • An Instagram account that spotlights DEIB contributions of ES individuals in and beyond the department and alerts the community to events etc.
  1. Curriculum Innovations

Environmental Justice Area of Concentration

Students majoring in ES can now opt for the new “Environmental Justice” area of concentration, a topical and theoretical area that is introduced in our core courses and which already informs many electives. In doing so, we will have a dedicated focus for students interested in: 1) studying historical and systemic inequities based on class, race, gender etc. as they pertain to environmental studies 2) Learning how historically marginalized communities and their allies are working to reorient these systems towards equity and justice. Within this area of concentration students can take classes such as

  • ES 304: Race and Environment (offered for the first time in fall 2022)
  • ES 335: Gender and Environment
  • A number of additional courses that foreground issues of DEIB in Environmental Studies, whether in policy management (ES 333) or broader social contexts (Soc 247).

Across our curriculum, all faculty have and will continue to take steps to update their courses with the goal that all ES courses will ultimately include:

  • Syllabi that incorporate student learning objective statements (SLO) regarding the value of DEI and the imperative for respectful and civil engagement that recognizes and respects difference.
  • Readings and other course materials that engage experts from diverse backgrounds.
  • Open Educational Resource (OER) course materials, or those that are affordable (within the $50.00 range recommended by the library based on a college-wide student survey).
  • EJ case studies that thoughtfully incorporate discussions of environmental justice within course modules. In addressing these issues, course modules are aimed to both recognize systemic injustices and demonstrate how marginalized communities and their allies can work actively for justice, equity, and inclusive representation.
  1. Laboratory and Fieldwork Protocols

Environmental studies is by default an experiential and field-oriented area of study. To ensure that students feel safe in these environments, especially in the field, the ES Department provides laboratory and field work protocols for all faculty and students to consult as needed.

The Protocols include important information such as:

  • Self-educate on the experience of your group’s identities, and the corresponding risk that they may encounter in the field.
  • Prepare your team by educating yourselves on the social and political landscape of your field site.
  • Contact relevant authorities ahead of time of fieldwork to prepare them that your team will be visiting.
  • Establish means to report bias incidents, if they occur in the field.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about what the ES Department’s on-going work! We work with our students as well as continue to educate ourselves through channels such as our college’s Diversity Office, which offers many professional development opportunities to faculty and staff on innovating the classroom and beyond.