A new diversity action plan for Stanford Earth
Today I want to share with you our new action plan for accelerating diversity, equity, and inclusion at Stanford Earth.
The plan is a roadmap outlining current and future efforts around diversity curricula and training; broad enhancements to the student, faculty and staff experience; improved engagement; expanded hiring outreach and student recruitment; and measures for progress. I hope you will take time to read the full report and visit the new DEI website, which is packed with resources, events, and programs. Both are organized around four areas: Educate, Enhance, Engage, and Expect.
Beyond graduate student recruitment
We began a comprehensive effort to strengthen our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in December 2019. Our earliest motivation was to design a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) initiative that goes well beyond graduate student recruitment. We wanted to add programs that focus on school climate – effective underpinnings that sustain an authentic sense of belonging and awareness for people of all identities within the school.
We wanted to address mentoring-across-difference training, faculty hiring, anti-bias workshops, and greater professional development and financial support for underrepresented students and postdocs. All of this would build on the foundations of our required Respectful & Inclusive Community workshops established in 2006 and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, pioneered by professor emeritus Jerry Harris 10 years ago as one of the first such offices in a Stanford school.
We appointed Lupe Carrillo as director in February 2020 and renamed the office DEI. George Floyd’s death and discussions about racial injustice and anti-Black racism only added urgency and drove our determination to improve and expand Stanford Earth DEI practices. Since then, Lupe has gathered input from 25 different groups and held 40+ stakeholder meetings with more than 100 students, staff, faculty, and alumni. She has had direct conversations about our DEI challenges and aspirations with BIPOC and DEI student leaders, lab groups, GSAC co-chairs, Diversity and Inclusion in the Geosciences class leaders, as well as with our five faculty Associate Chairs for Diversity and Inclusion (ACDI) – Inês Azevedo, Jef Caers, Rodolfo Dirzo, Sonia Tikoo-Schantz, and Paula Welander, who are already at work expanding admissions practices in their departments. The rise of anti-Asian racism has added even more relevance to the need. And what emerged from all of this were honest conversations, as well as a clear directive to take action.
Lupe brought all of the community’s insights and conversations, including the latest research on DEI best practices, to a series of meetings with an eight-person group in the Dean’s Office last fall and winter. The leadership group members, who were all invested in this effort, completed the DEI action plan that I share with you today. In addition to Lupe and me, the group members were senior associate deans Jon Payne, Scott Fendorf, Tiziana Vanorio, and Amy Balsom; and associate deans Robyn Dunbar (Educational Affairs) and Sue Crutcher (HR).
In this process, I have taken away two things: Input about the realities on the ground for members of our community – barriers like assumptions about one's abilities. I have learned about the “unwritten curriculum” – information some people understand well and that others don't have access to, such as how to apply for a particular fellowship. And then there are microaggressions, which are so damaging, whether they are delivered with ignorance or intent.
I have also heard clearly that it’s the job of our school leadership, not the underrepresented community, to figure out what to do. There should not be a “minority tax” – an unfair burden placed on underrepresented students, faculty, or staff to resolve these problems. I want to thank everyone who shared these insights with the DEI team and with me.
By no means finished
While the action plan lays out a three-year path, it is by no means finished. I want you to read our DEI Vison, Goals & Action Plan, along with the more detailed new website, and give us your feedback.
The report is a living document that can and should change as we make progress. You can submit feedback here, contact Lupe Carrillo or Robyn Dunbar, or reach out to me directly in email. We will also host several community feedback sessions this spring with the first on April 26. Watch for invitations in email.
We can’t change things overnight, but we have put a significant stake in the ground. We have earmarked about $2.4 million in funds to support our DEI initiatives. In just the last 12 months, we established and funded the Stanford Earth Dean’s Graduate Scholars program and created the Stanford Earth Postdoctoral Fellowship program. We have built awareness with our #StanfordEarthCelebrates editorial series on identity, and Stanford Earth Educational Affairs, of which DEI is a part, has partnered with the university to develop faculty anti-bias workshops. DEI has supported the continuance of our Diversity and Inclusion in the Geosciences course and will work with departments and programs as the environmental justice curriculum is developed in the new school. In January we hired Isabel Carrera Zamanillo from an established diversity program at University of Washington to work as assistant DEI director. And we recently opened a search for a tenure-track faculty position utilizing new recruiting tools to greatly expand the diversity of our candidate pool.
As we plan for a new school, we want to build a Stanford Earth community that reflects a diversity of backgrounds – a diversity that is also represented in faculty and leadership roles with the understanding that different worldviews and sensitivities to environmental justice are fundamental to fruitful learning and research. We aim for a community in which empathy and well-being are values that are just as important as academic achievement. We also hope that the university’s IDEAL cluster hire program, which is aimed at increasing scholarship on the impact of race in America, will support an environmental justice faculty position.
This is just the beginning, but a promising one. I thank Lupe Carrillo for her determined leadership in this, along with Isabel Carrera Zamanillo. I urge you all to join me in this endeavor and support the work of our DEI team in Educational Affairs.
Steve Graham, Chester Naramore Dean
School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences