What We’re Doing to Build Equity through Inclusion and Access
Biological Sciences is continually working to support our students, faculty, and staff academically, personally, and professionally. Here are some of the things that we’re doing:
Fall 2023 Ongoing Work
By its nature, all of the work of this committee is ongoing — working toward equity is work that is never finished. Here are some of the projects we are actively working on and discussions that we are having this semester:
- Creating a program to provide paid undergraduate research positions to students carrying out lab-based, field-based, or educational research that has implications for diversity, equity, inclusion, or belonging.
- Providing feedback to university committees on equitable academic policies.
- Exploring the use of storytelling as a means to create community and to deconstruct the scientific stock stories we have learned.
- Planning for a Biological Sciences Building Future Faculty visit in Spring 2024.
- Continuing the BioSci Belonging Research Project through analysis of student interview transcripts and a publication forthcoming in Spring 2024.
POLICIES AND PRACTICES
- We expanded our committee dedicated to BEIA actions. We formed a BEIA committee to help establish the department as an environment that welcomes diverse perspectives and backgrounds, promotes equitable treatment of students, faculty, and staff, and ensures that full participation in learning, mentoring, research, and engagement is accessible to all. As individuals, we will work to continually learn and respond to feedback by making changes that improve the environments in our classrooms, labs, and offices. As a department, we will pursue systemic changes that remove barriers to inclusion in learning, scholarship, engagement and outreach, technological and managerial innovation, and service.
- We are educating and encouraging the NC State community to reject the use of in-home video-based proctoring. Our department has been working to stop the use of in-home video-based proctoring because it has been shown to disproportionately impact students of color, trans and non-binary students, disabled and neurodivergent students, students who are parents or caregivers, and students experiencing housing or financial insecurity. As a committee, we drafted a statement and asked our faculty whether they would reject the use of video-based proctoring. We are still collecting signatures, but at this point, we believe that no classes in Biological Sciences (including microbiology, genetics, biology, zoology, and toxicology) will be using this technology, and to date, 57 instructors have signed on to the statement. We hope that this will continue to gain momentum and serve as an example for other departments.
UPDATE! We are so pleased that on May 14, 2021, NC States DELTA office sent out an university-wide email acknowledging the potential harm of video-monitoring and indicating that Respondus Monitor will not be available for the 2021 summer sessions or for other terms going forward.
- We invited students to form a Student BEIA Advisory Committee. We invited students to establish an advisory committee so that we can work in coordination to identify priorities. The founding members of this committee laid the groundwork throughout 2021-23, and also founded the BioSci Belonging Research Group.
- We initiated a research project to understand factors influencing student belonging in Biological Sciences. A research team designed and carried out a survey to gain information about students’ experiences in the department. This project further developed to include one-on-one interviews, and the findings of this research will be published in Spring 2024.
- Our department is working toward equitable student wages. We have increased the suggested starting hourly rate for undergraduate student workers to $14/hour, and we have standardized graduate TA stipends to ensure that all graduate TAs in Biological Sciences receive the same stipend regardless of their home academic program.
- Our graduate programs are no longer requiring GREs. Our graduate programs (Genetics, Genetics and Genomics Scholars program, Biology) do not require GREs because we recognize that they are culturally biased and are not strong predictors of future success.
Some additional information about GREs:
Predictors of Student Productivity in Biomedical Graduate School Applications
The Limitations of the GRE in Predicting Success in Biomedical Graduate School
- Our faculty are encouraged to use an inclusive syllabus. We have developed an “inclusive” syllabus template that all faculty are encouraged to personalize and use. This syllabus is reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it provides our students with personal, professional, and academic resources that they need to succeed in their courses.
- Biological Sciences is augmenting university programs to address food insecurity in our buildings. NC State and campus partners have developed many programs, notably Pack Essentials, to support students in need of food, housing, financial, and educational security. Biological Sciences extends accessibility by providing open access to free snacks and personal items in our buildings.
- We have advocated for adequate mental health resources. BEIA Committee members initiated conversations with the Counseling Center, CALS, and COS that led to college-level financial commitment to hire an embedded counselor for CALS and COS students.
- We are instituting new programs and expanding our curriculum to reflect the importance of BEIA educational and professional opportunities for our students. We recently launched a new Global Health minor, which includes a new course entitled, GPH 201 Fundamentals of Global Public Health.
- We carried out surveys to understand inequities in graduate Teaching Assistant workload, training, and support in 2022. These findings have been used to begin developing new training opportunities and are used to inform departmental policies.
Our faculty have received funding from federal and other sources to develop programs to expand efforts to build equity through access and inclusion on campus and beyond – some of these grants are noted here.
- Inclusive Excellence: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). 2018-present. PI: Jane Lubischer; co-PIs: Jason Flores, Lisa Parks.
- RCN-UBE Incubator STEM BUILD: A network of undergraduates, faculty, and makers utilizing 3D printing to Build Understanding through Inclusive Learning Design. National Science Foundation (NSF) 12/1/2020 – 11/31/2023. Co-PIs: Claire Gordy and Melissa Ramirez
- Collaborative Research: Building Capacity to Improve STEM Education through Citizen Science by Scaling Up University-Community Partnerships: This program seeks to build the capacity for establishing citizen science communities that engage students in meaningful learning experiences in and around the Nation’s largest Historically Black College or University, North Carolina A&T State University. Citizen Science refers to efforts to involve volunteers from across different sectors of society, stakeholder groups, and communities in the scientific process. NC State has been a leader in efforts to bring Citizen Science into university classrooms through Active Learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991) pedagogies. NSF. 10/01/2020 – 09/30/2022. Co-PIs: Caren Beth Cooper and Bucky (Terry) Allen Gates.
- Environmental health research experiences for teachers in high-poverty schools: a professional development program. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIEHS/NIH) 2018-2022. Co-PIs: Reade Roberts and Margareta Thompson (College of Education)
- CRECER: Cultivating Research with Community-Engaged Roots: Burroughs-Wellcome Student STEM Enrichment Program. Residential research program for Latine students from rural NC high schools. 02/01/2020-08/30/2025. Co-PIs: Claire Gordy and Melissa Ramirez.
- BioTechnology Sequencing-based Undergraduate Research Experience (BIT SURE): Research experience for undergraduates with a focus on recruiting and including Deaf/Hard of Hearing students and partnering with NC School for the Deaf. NSF REU. 9/15/17-8/31/21. PI: Carlos Goller.
- MORE: Mentored, Open Research Experiences: A stipend-supported multi-institutional online research experience for students traditionally excluded from REUs, including undocumented students. Co-PIs Claire Gordy, Carlos Goller, Rafael Guerrero, Melissa Ramirez.
- Science Learning+: STEM Teens: Examining the Role of Youth Educators as Learners and Teachers in Informal STEM Learning Sites: This proposal is for a Science Learning+ Partnership Grant to examine STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) engagement outcomes for youth educators and the visitors with whom they interact in informal STEM learning sites (ISLS).12/01/2017 – 02/28/2022. Co-PIs: Adam Hartstone-Rose and Kelly Lynn Mulvey.
- STEM initiative grant to Miriam Ferzli and Grace Carroll to use online software to model data in Introductory Biology concepts