Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racism in the Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dear Iowa EES Community,

Over the past year, we have watched a seismic shift in the way our nation confronts racism, intolerance, and inequality. The tragic deaths of so many people of color associated with policing, COVID-19, and climate-related disasters, and the reactions those deaths have elicited, demonstrate that racism remains an insidious part of our society. We stand in solidarity with our Black, Latinx, First Nations, LGBTQ, Asian, and other marginalized students and alumni in a shared effort to dismantle racism, both personally and institutionally. As a Department that is taking account of its historic lack of diversity, we recognize that we demonstrate the pattern of systemic racism in academia, and that our faculty do not currently reflect the demographics of our students nor our nation. We are committed to addressing these challenges on all fronts, starting with our Department and our classrooms, and we wanted to share our current actions and plans for the future with the Hawkeye EES community.

Geoscience and Environmental Science are the least diverse of all of the STEM fields. This lack of diversity hinders the discipline by discouraging potential scientists and limiting the diversity of thought present in our fields. It is additionally problematic in light of the disproportionate negative impacts that climate change, degradation of water resources, natural resource extraction/processing/disposal, and natural hazards have on Underrepresented Minority (URM) communities. The very core of what we do as a discipline is fundamentally linked to topics of race, equity, representation, and marginalization. In both Geoscience and Environmental Science, we have already begun the process of re-evaluating the curriculum to determine how these critical topics can become core components of our educational programs.

We steadfastly resolve to support and to protect the rights of all people to participate in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment within our classrooms, our laboratories, our field activities, and our Department. We strive to create a Departmental culture where students, staff, and faculty of all identities feel they belong and that their voices, and the voices of their communities, are heard. We are committed to lasting and meaningful change, and view this moment as the start of an ongoing process to improve representation, diversity, and the quality of our science.

Starting with the 2021-2022 academic year, we will:

  • Solicit regular input via anonymous surveys from students, staff, and faculty about their experiences with systemic racism in the department and on campus, as well as their suggestions for improvement
  • Utilize our DEI committee to evaluate where our curriculum, culture, and practices may be promoting exclusivity and develop plans to remediate these barriers
  • Partner with the other science and math departments on campus to organize a STEM-wide DEI action plan
  • Increase course content that specifically addresses systemic racism and environmental justice in the discipline of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Increase course content that presents case studies of impacts on URM communities as well as highlighting research by URM scientists
  • Promote a wider range of representation during our Departmental colloquium speaker series
  • Increase faculty and staff training through Building University of Iowa Leadership for Diversity (BUILD), with the goal of all department faculty obtaining BUILD certification within three years
  • Improve URM recruitment of undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty
  • Remove the GRE as a requirement for graduate admissions and develop a new ‘holistic evaluation’ process for graduate applicants
  • Partner with on campus, local, and national organizations in community engagement and partnerships to promote EES participation by URM, traditionally underserved populations, and those from disadvantaged neighborhoods 
  • Provide training and guidance for our Graduate Students to help to create inclusive laboratories and classrooms

We condemn racism and commit to the hard work required to help end the systemic injustices our discipline has helped to perpetuate.

- The Faculty and Staff of the University of Iowa Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to the mission of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa, as we conduct our work in the context of the whole of humanity.

  • In our teaching, we draw on, explore, and question every facet of human experience and understanding.
  • In our scholarship, scientific inquiry, and artistry, we create new knowledge and insight, reflecting and shaping the cultures and societies in which human lives unfold.
  • In our service to Iowans, we collaborate with communities to solve critical problems arising from inequity.

DEI values are inseparable from those of the liberal arts tradition. To fully realize our college’s critical mission of advancing human understanding within that tradition, we must actualize these values in every aspect of our decision-making and every area of our academic community.