Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
About the initiative
In 2020, under the heightened awareness of racial injustices and the legacy of systemic discrimination within society and within our academic institutions, SOLS students, faculty, and staff worked together to establish the SOLS DEI Initiative. As part of this initiative a Special Advisor of DEI to the Director and the development of the SOLS DEI Committee. These efforts aspire to transform our institutional structures and culture to one that better supports ASU’s Charter, and fosters inclusion across our SOLS community.
Since the formation of the SOLS DEI Committee in the Fall of 2020, the taskforce has worked to understand the range, scope, and depth of DEI needs and opportunities within the SOLS community, with respect to research, teaching, training, resources, and community belonging. Through a series of listening sessions and discussions with members of the SOLS community, and with a broader network of ASU Stakeholders the task force outlined three strategic goals.
Mission and vision
The School of Life Sciences DEI Taskforce works across our school, Arizona State University, and national networks, to develop an inclusive and thriving community that reflects the sociodemographic diversity of our state and nation and to ensure that human diversity, equity, and inclusion are foundational to decision-making, resource allocation, policies, and practices in support of our academic mission.
The School of Life Sciences DEI Initiative aspires to displace systemic prejudice to create a safe, inclusive and just environment where all community members can thrive, especially those from groups that have been marginalized in Life Sciences.
As part of this commitment, SOLS recognizes that Black, African American, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islanders, Latinx/e, and many other self-identifying minoritized individuals have historically experienced, and still experience, marginalization in life pursuits and in the life sciences. Furthermore, it is acknowledged there are deeply rooted legacies of injustice and racism at the foundations of modern science.
We aim to amplify the voices of those who have been underrepresented, under-served, or silenced in decision-making capacities, in the academy, and in the spaces where we learn, teach, and conduct research.
SOLS acknowledges the ancestral lands on which ASU campuses are located and have been inhabited by Native Nations for time immemorial. ASU's largest four campuses in Arizona are located in the Salt River Valley on the ancestral homelands of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odtham (Pima) and Pee-Posh (Maricopa) sovereign nations, whose founding and eternal care and keeping of these lands allows all of us to be here today. SOLS seeks to create and maintain an environment of success and safety for all, including Native Americans on campus. SOLS further advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems that are able to be shared within the Life Sciences.
Diversity A variety of attributes among people from different social backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities (e.g., race or ethnicity; socioeconomic status; disability; LGBTQ+ identity; national origin, and familial history with higher education, as well as the intersections of these backgrounds, experiences, or identities). A diverse community improves creativity and innovation.
Equity Fair treatment, policies and practices, access, and opportunity that allow all members of a community to thrive, recognizing that people are starting from different places relative to desired outcomes and experience different barriers along the way. Equity is different but synergistic with equality, which means the same treatment, access, and opportunities for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or lived experiences.
Inclusion An action of soliciting ideas from, valuing, and respecting people, their differences, and their contributions within a community. An inclusive community maximizes the desired outcomes of all individuals.
Belonging: A feeling of acceptance, support, and value by members of a community, especially people from underrepresented or underserved groups. Belonging is a positive outcome of inclusion.
Inclusive empathy: The ability to understand and feel what other people are experiencing or have experienced, particularly in the context of societal and systemic biases that affect some groups more than others. Building inclusive empathy starts from listening and learning about the experiences of others who are different from oneself and one’s social group, and leads to reflection about one’s own position in society relative to others. Inclusive empathy builds emotional intelligence.
The SOLS DEI Initiative is guided by the following questions:
- How well does our community represent the identities and lived experiences of our students, state, and nation?
- Are there policies and practices that should be developed, reviewed, or revised to promote equitable outcomes in support of SOLS values and the ASU Charter, and to improve belonging in our unit?
- How can we change our culture to be more inclusive of women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), LGBTIQA+ and people from other marginalized groups?
- How can we support, inspire, and empower individuals from our community to develop inclusive empathy and take action – whether big or small – to improve belonging for SOLS faculty, staff, and students?
Since its formation in the Fall of 2020 the SOLS DEI Committee has worked to understand the range, scope, and depth of DEI needs and opportunities within the SOLS community, with respect to research, teaching, training, resources, and community belonging.
Following a 18-months+ process of listening sessions and discussions with members of the SOLS community, and with a broader network of ASU Stakeholders the DEI Committee, developed the 2022-2025 SOLS DEI Strategic Plan.The multi-year plan is guided by the objectives of three key priority areas (listed below).
About the DEI task force
December 2022 the SOLS DEI committee was reconfigured to serve as a task force comprising 13 members, which include staff, faculty, graduate students, and postdocs. Each task force member will serve a two-year term.
Special Advisor to the Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Program Manager of DEI initiatives
Meet the task force
Community Standards & Accountability
Send Anonymous Feedback to the DEI Taskforce.
Quarterly Newsletter & Reports
Milestones & Progress
The School of Life Sciences, with others across The College, were awarded $9,550 for their interdisciplinary proposal “Natural Sciences INCLUsion DEpartmental (INCLUDES) Training Program,” and $10,000 for their proposal “RISE Teams: Improving Undergraduate Outcomes in Biology using Research for Inclusive STEM Education (RISE) Best-Practices.” These targeted initiatives will improve student outcomes in biology and STEM through inclusive curriculum, teaching and mentorship.
The Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center was awarded $10,000 for their proposal, “Biocollections JEDI Research Fellowship: Facilitating Equity and Inclusivity in Human-Nature Connections.” Scholars will complete a six-week summer research training experience, which will include a collaborative, curation-based research project and rotations between the core specialties of botany, entomology, vertebrate zoology and bioinformatics.
The College hosted a virtual screening and discussion of “Picture a Scientist” — a documentary film that chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for female scientists. The livestreamed discussion was led by Nancy Gonzales, provost pro tempore and outgoing dean of natural sciences, and Raychelle Burks, professor of analytical chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C., and one of the scientists featured in the documentary.
Spotlight on inclusion
Member spotlight in the news
School of Life Sciences faculty members, Jeffrey Jensen and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee member, Janet Neisewander, receive Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.
Inclusive Teaching Fellowship Program
An initiative to train student and faculty member teams, and revise medium-enrollment and high- enrollment undergraduate courses, using evidence-based best practices in inclusive pedagogy and curriculum design. Inclusive Teaching teams will begin their work in Spring 2021!
Member spotlight in the news
ASU School of Life Sciences virologist and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee member, Arvind Varsani pursues research of all kinds on all continents
The Research Inclusive STEM Education (RISE) Center
Promotes equity in the experiences of undergraduates in STEM through innovative education research conducted at scale, leading to the development of best practices for inclusive STEM education.
Centers, initiatives and programs
Stay tuned to learn more about how to get involved in JEDI programs and initiatives across the School of Life Sciences and ASU, including training programs, inclusive teaching fellowships, and national research opportunities.
Save the date for the JEDI/HMMI retreat, coming up on April 9 and 23! We also hope you’ll join us for listening sessions, discussions, and seminars. Full list coming soon!