Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Statement

Background

The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate includes faculty, staff, and students who are committed to understanding the earth, environment, and atmosphere and how we interact with our world. We are an interdisciplinary group; we take pride in the fact that our backgrounds and perspectives vary. We embrace the diverse experiences of individuals, communities, cultures, and nations and understand that those experiences enrich and inform our department. We recognize that science and culture are inseparable and are both crucial parts of our work.

We decided to formalize our commitment to a culture of support and respect for all voices. This includes the voices we already have and those we still need to include. There is always work to be done and we aspire to continually improve.

Importance

For us, diversity is integral to academic and scientific excellence. We know diversity helps develop and enhance our departmental community – faculty, staff, students – and creates better and more fulfilled scientists, educators, and citizens. Differing perspectives, backgrounds, and interests foster a culture of productive discussion and complex problem-solving which results in relevant and high-quality work. As a land grant institution, we are also committed to working with our communities through active dialogue and inclusive education. We know having more perspectives within our department will make us better at developing research and communicating information in relevant and useful ways. 


Reality

We understand there are institutional and human barriers to success for underrepresented people within academia and, specifically, within agricultural and environmental sciences. These barriers are a result of structural and historical inequalities that have marginalized people based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability/disability, mental health, indigenous identity, sexual orientation, and more. We are committed to actions of equity and inclusivity as tools to intentionally create space for previously unheard or underrepresented voices in our disciplines in hopes of gaining necessary perspectives to our work and the environments in which we operate. We also acknowledge we are humans with implicit biases at an institution with a history of marginalizing groups, a legacy that we will actively and continuously seek to address and resolve. 


Aspirations

We aspire to a future where the people in the department represent the world we serve at large. We are committed to a community where every member feels respected, valued, and supported as their whole self and given the opportunity to flourish, unobstructed, in their pursuit of excellence. We aspire to conduct culturally sensitive research that incorporates all voices in the pursuit of practical solutions for the sustainable welfare of humanity. We aspire to teach multiple perspectives which will develop researchers, teachers, students, and citizens who are thoughtful and successful in many environments. We aspire to make way for underrepresented voices in academia, specifically within the agricultural and environmental disciplines.

Commitments

We are committed to:

  1. Maintaining a supportive and inclusive environment with zero tolerance for harassment and bullying.
  2. Inviting and encouraging diverse perspectives through active recruitment of underrepresented perspectives in admissions and collaborations.
  3. Actively and intentionally incorporating educational and research content that reflects diverse ways of understanding our world.
  4. Identifying and working together toward elimination of cultural, structural, and institutional barriers to inclusivity and success.
  5. Listening to feedback, engaging in dialogue, and learning from our mistakes.
  6. Continuously re-evaluating our progress towards our aspirations.


Actions

  1. Make the SWAC Diversity Statement visible and present in the department. This will include publishing it to the department website and posting framed copies in public spaces in the department.
  2. Task the SWAC Faculty Consultative Committee to lead the department in meeting and surpassing the “good practices” in diversity, inclusivity, and equity set out by CFANS and the University at large. Their responsibilities will include initially setting quantifiable goals/metrics and identifying 1-2 deliverables per academic year. Broadly, they will be responsible for continually reviewing our goals and progress, spearheading training within the department, and playing an active part in every hiring process. If deemed necessary by the FCC, a separate Diversity Committee will be appointed to continue this work.
  3. Celebrate our department’s diversity through Experience All Traditions (EAT) Night and other events supported by the SWAC Social Committee.

Record of work:

  • 2018-2019: Development of SWAC Diversity Statement to Formalize Existing Departmental Commitment
  • 2019-2020: Development and Structural Integration of Reflective Questionnaire to Increase Cultural Competency and Self-Awareness during Outreach


This is a living document – changing and growing over time with the department. We hope this document will be the start of a conversation about diversity and inclusion. We believe in the feedback process and want to encourage engagement on any level. This document has been reviewed by the CFANS Office for Diversity and Inclusion and SWAC faculty, staff, and students (graduate and undergraduate). If you have questions or comments, please feel free to direct them to our Department Head, Carl Rosen (crosen@umn.edu).