A year ago, each division and office in our college committed to taking on two action items to promote compassion, inclusivity, diversity and equity within their units. After a review and suggestions by the CAFNR IDEC Committee, directors pursued the initiatives – often more than two – and shared updates with Vice Chancellor and Dean Daubert each month, which were used to help showcase the efforts across the college in this newsletter.
This effort stemmed from a call from Provost Latha Ramchand for each college to identify two actionable items to take on last June. The Provost’s call was in response to a number of racially motivated tragedies in our country in the late winter and spring of 2020, including the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“I am proud that CAFNR asked each area to identify and commit to two action items, rather than just two in the college as a whole. We really went above and beyond,” said Samniqueka Halsey, CAFNR Faculty Fellow for Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity, and assistant professor, School of Natural Resources.
A year later, many of the actions identified have been completed within our units. How have we grown in the past year?:
- A team in the college worked to craft and get approved IDE and Cultural Competencies Learning Objectives for CAFNR curricula. Divisions are now working on implementing the learning objectives into their curricula.
- All of SNR’s degree programs are aiming to have IDE courses required as part of the curriculum. Courses can come from Black Studies or Peace Studies programs. So far, Environmental Science has implemented this fully.
- Biochemistry has added an upper-level course covering issues of inclusion and diversity in the science field.
- DASS has made a two-year commitment to support the Cambio Center, and is looking into creating a graduate certificate for Latinx Studies, with the core course offered by divisional teachers.
- Division-level IDE metrics were included in Divisional “scorecards” to assess progress at review time each spring.
- CANFR implemented a Diversity Statement requirement for all applications to Professional and Tenure-Track faculty positions.
- SNR successfully supported an applicant, jointly with the College of Engineering, for the Preparing Future Faculty – Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program.
Programming for Students
- Office of Research has committed to providing annual travel support for up to five graduate students to attend the MANNRS National Convention.
- Academic Programs and CAFNR’s IDE Faculty Fellow established a peer-mentoring program, COMPASS (CAFNR’s Opportunity for Minorities: Promoting and Achieving Student Success), to promote academic success, persistence, and successful graduation of participating students. The program matched incoming historically underrepresented freshmen and transfer students with returning students who served as their mentors for an 8-week formal program to help students meet their educational goals. One mentee is now a student council representee and two mentors and one mentee are now CAFNR Ambassadors.
- Academic Programs and Animal Sciences continued to offer the CAFNR Connections program in a virtual format this year. CAFNR Connections aims to increase a sense of belonging and inclusion within CAFNR for students of color.
- Academic Programs and Office of Research are providing funding to CAFNR clubs and organizations who foster the ideals of inclusivity, diversity, equity and compassion.
- CAFNR International Programs helped the Deaton Scholars incorporate content on being inclusive and respectful in their team interactions, and understanding the role of racism and other oppressions in food insecurity and extreme poverty.
- CAFNR International Programs launched an International Engagement group for CAFNR graduate students.
- Many offices participated in the Mizzou IDE’s self-guided curriculum on “Race, Racism and the American Experience,” or other online coursework/implicit bias tests, in addition to group book readings and/or video viewings.
- FSB invited faculty and staff members to share unique aspects of their background cultures with colleagues.
- Plant Sciences is developing an online site for folks to share their experiences; in-service lessons also will be provided to divisional faculty and staff.
Processes and Policies
- SNR reactivated their diversity committee.
- Animal Sciences reviewed student evaluation comments for any concerns of bias.
- DASS prepared language to explicitly state the importance of faculty contributions toward inclusive excellence for divisional workload policy and promotion and tenure guidelines. All faculty have tentatively accepted the language.
- Biochemistry added a question about inclusive teaching practices to course surveys and sent mid-semester. Will be part of faculty evaluations.
- CAFNR International Programs and the Cambio Center worked with MU-wide team to develop Limited English Proficiency policy for campus, and to develop the needs assessment and Language Access Plan tools.
- DASS gave its inaugural awards for faculty, students and alumni who embody being change agents for IDE.
- Office of Research set and attained a goal to increase the number of George Washington Carver Fellowships, targeted to underrepresented graduate students, from two to four per year.
- CAFNR Marketing & Communications created an editorial calendar to celebrate important months/holidays/remembrance days for our different audiences. Over the past few months, they have marked Black History Month, Women’s History Month and Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month with features on notable contributors to the fields of agriculture, food and natural resources, for example.
- CAFNR Marketing & Communications conducted a diversity audit on college-level communications (print and digital). Implementation of the action items from the audit will occur this summer. The method used is available for any units who would like to conduct their own similar audits.
- Cambio Center and Ag & Environment Extension are working to develop materials and videos for Spanish-speaking communities.
- Ag & Environment Extension implemented a section to their newsletter sharing resources on IDE.
- Ag & Environment Extension committed to showcasing stories on efforts by their specialists engaging with diverse communities.
“It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we set goals and reach for them,” Daubert said. “When we created our strategic plan with the priority area of Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Community, I envisioned a level of engagement around this priority. But what we’ve done in the past year alone has blown me away. Thanks to everyone who committed to doing better. Let’s keep it going!”
As Daubert mentioned, it’s time to identify what’s next. Halsey and Michelle Enger, director, Office of Marketing & Communications, will review over the summer months what’s been done, see which initiatives were successful, and determine how we can build on what we’ve learned. For example, perhaps a successful initiative in one division could be implemented college-wide, Halsey said.