Winter 2021 DEI
Special MLK Colloqium
Jan 27, 2021 (4:00 - 5:00 PM)
Equity in Science: Representation, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change in Graduate Education
Julie Posselt (USC Rossier School of Education)
Colloqium Recording (Note: large file)
Department Colloquium CRLT Workshop
Mar 24, 2021 (3:30-5:00 PM)
Teaching for Equity & Inclusion
How can instructors deliberately cultivate learning environments where all students feel valued, respected, and supported in their learning? This interactive synchronous session will provide structured opportunities for instructors to reflect on their goals and practices related to inclusion and equity, consider how to apply key research-based inclusive teaching principles to their f2f and remote teaching, and exchange ideas with colleagues to support the deliberate cultivation of inclusive learning environments.
The following are statements from each of our subcommittees on their goals and projects.
The goal of the Representation Subcommittee is to ensure the wellbeing of current students in the Physics Department. The COVID-19 crisis has led to financial, physical, mental, and academic problems for many individuals. A Wellness Survey has been distributed to all physics students to obtain feedback on what students need most during the winter term. This survey also includes local resources within the University of Michigan as well as Washtenaw County that may alleviate struggles related to financial and food insecurity and access to mental and physical health care. To help with long-term retention, the subcommittee is also working toward creating exit surveys for students completing their undergraduate or graduate degree in the Physics Department. Survey results will help the DEI Committee understand the concerns and needs of students in the department. This will allow the committee to better support all physics students in future projects.
The goal of the Outreach Subcommittee is to branch outside the Physics Department and provide assistance with physics education in the Southeast Michigan community. Since the summer of 2020, the Outreach subcommittee, U-M physics faculty, and graduate student instructors have been working diligently with a nearby high school, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, to help facilitate freshman year physics classes. The aim is to provide students with one-on-one assistance opportunities and access to hands-on lab course materials. Additionally, the subcommittee is continuing to invite engaging speakers for Saturday Morning Physics lectures and expand the number of workshops available to graduate students and faculty.
The goal of the Teaching Subcommittee is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom. For the 2020-21 academic year, a top priority has been to provide resource materials for professors and graduate student instructors (GSIs) to share with undergraduate students. Resource materials cover health and wellness, academics, student organizations, and the history of trailblazing physicists who have paved the way for current women and underrepresented minorities in the community. A long-term goal of the subcommittee is to make the learning process more transparent by outlining what skill sets a student receives in their physics courses and how these skills can be applied to their future careers. This project is being done in conjunction with the Curriculum Committee.
The goal of the Research Subcommittee is to evaluate current practices in research settings and to develop means of making the research space inclusive and equitable. For the 2020-21 academic year, the subcommittee is focusing on improving current annual progress reports for both pre-candidate and candidate doctoral students. Improvements to the written progress reports include incorporating recommendations from Rackham’s Faculty Committee on Mentoring (MORE) and feedback from students on the committee. Reviewing the current qualifying and preliminary exams is another aspect of this project. The purpose of this review is to see how these assessment tools can better serve student’s long term goals and track their progress through the program. Additional projects include making research opportunities both on and off campus more accessible to undergraduate students and developing future workshops on mentorship and lab management.
Past DEI Projects
Graduate and Undergraduate Recruitment
The committee has recognized the lack of diversity of students within the department and has formed two sub-committees to focus on establishing recruitment policies aimed at specifically increasing doctoral program applications and undergraduate major declarations from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. In the Fall 2017 Semester, we sent representatives to NSBP, SACNAS, and oSTEM conferences.
MIRA Conversations on Inclusion and Equity
The Physics DEI Committee is proud to be partnering with the Michigan Institute for Research in Astrophysics (MIRA) and their seminar series, Conversations on Inclusions and Equity. Information on previous talks can be found on the MIRA webpage.
Lecture in the recent past: John Pelz on March 21, 2018, 340 West Hall : An MS-to-PhD Physics Bridge Program and Other Activities to Enhance Diversity and Student Support in the Ohio State University Physics Graduate Program
Lack of diversity in physics and other STEM PhD programs is a chronic issue. In recent years, less than 7% of domestic physics PhDs awarded nationwide have gone to students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups, even though they make up 35% of the college age population. Increasing diversity in a physics PhD program can be difficult, especially if the program receives a low number of “traditionally qualified” URM applicants. Inspired by successful STEM Bridge programs at San Francisco State, Fisk-Vanderbilt, and Michigan, the Ohio State University MS-to-PhD Physics Bridge Program (OSU-BP) was established in late 2012 with unanimous faculty support to increase the pool of qualified applicants from underrepresented groups, and accepted its first cohort of four Bridge students in August 2013. I will discuss activities and events that preceded and followed the creation of the OSU-BP, which have coincided with an increase in the representation of URM students in the OSU Physics Ph.D. program from less than 5% of domestic students in 2012 to almost 20% in autumn 2017. These include building a core group of committed faculty colleagues, partnering with the American Physical Society Bridge Program for nationwide recruiting and other support, working with colleagues in Physics Education Research (PER) to develop new graduate physics academic support programs, and expanding holistic PhD admissions practices. I will also discuss on-going and future efforts, opportunities, and obstacles for increasing diversity in graduate programs at OSU and elsewhere. I would like to acknowledge the essential contributions of OSU Bridge Program Co-Director Jay Gupta, PER colleagues Andrew Heckler and Chris Porter, and many other colleagues who worked so hard to help these efforts succeed.
Creation of a Recruiting Brochure
In response to the need to actively increase recruiting efforts targeted towards students from diverse backgrounds, the committee has decided to develop a new recruiting brochure for the graduate programs. Michigan Creative was contracted for its production and also sought content input from current students, faculty, staff, and/or alumni. The brochure is completed, and can be found here.
Development of a 5-Year Strategic Plan
The committee is focusing on building a long-term plan containing policies and best practices based on available research and best practices.