The 21st century challenges that we face calls for a diversity of scientific thinkers, perspectives, and experiences to develop innovative and progressive solutions. In addition to scientists and researchers, we also need science communicators, policy makers, and advocates, all of whom requires a diverse skillset. As educators, we have a responsibility to imagine new ways to introduce science that connects with an increasingly diverse student population. Ecology teaches us how to understand and study the complex interactions between the living and non-living components of our world. As such, I believe it provides students an opportunity to understand the making of our changing world while grappling with the challenges and inconsistencies within the field. While ecology is a field that studies the role of diversity in the biological world, those who study the field (in the United States) poorly reflect the vast diversity of our global community. This underrepresentation hinders our ability to innovate and adapt solutions to global challenges such as climate change, food security, and land use change. I believe it is important for the science student to learn the foundation of biological thinking so that they may apply those concepts in creative and innovative ways. This flexibility and adaptability in thinking require a recognition and appreciation of the diverse perspectives and experiences that inform our field.
To that end, my aims as a researcher and educator are to:
- Introduce the work of ecologists and biologists from underrepresented groups in lecture materials.
- Provide citations and resources throughout lecture materials so that students can pursue additional knowledge.
- Encourage students to think critically and ask critical questions about the information they receive, including information they receive from me.
- Continue to assess and reflect on learning material to ensure that it is free of bias.
- Provide a diverse range of assignments to accommodate various types of learning and seek out up-to-date, equitable learning tools to implement in class.
- Use feedback to improve my skills as an equitable educator.
- Understand inequity as a systemic issue in science as a means of understanding the conditions that exclude underrepresented students from a science career.
- Collaborate with other educators to develop equitable learning materials and seek out professional development opportunities.
Gorski, P. (2017). Beyond celebrating diversity: 20 things I will do to be an equitable educator.
Resources for promoting diversity advancement in ecology and STEM
“To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives.”
Guides and resources from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Aims to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature and change the face of conservation.
Demery, A. J. C., & Pipkin, M. A. (2020). Safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals, their supervisors and institutions. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1-5.