Department of Geosciences Statement of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
The Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook University recognizes that the current social, economic, and political systems in the U.S discriminate against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals, the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersexed, Pansexual, Asexual, Agender, Gender Fluid, Genderqueer, etc.) community, immigrants, and individuals with disability statuses (1,2,3). We further recognize that the field of geosciences, including our department, is disproportionate in terms of race, ethnicity, and disability status compared to U.S. population demographics and other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields (4,5,6). Furthermore, within geosciences and related fields, members of these groups have faced harassment or additional challenges because of their identity or race (e.g., 7,8). It is our mission to foster an environment that strives for equity and inclusion of individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, creed, disability status, and country of origin and to help them feel safe and welcome. This environment will, in turn, enable our students and faculty to meet their academic aspirations. Racism or marginalization will not be tolerated in any way within our community. Our action plan to improve the diversity in our department and promote an inclusive, equitable and anti-racist environment for the field of geosciences is described below.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan
Offset or minimize the financial burdens (e.g. campus fees, language testing fees, moving/relocation costs) disproportionately faced by BIPOC / immigrant undergraduate or graduate students (9,10). We will work with the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement office to seek philanthropic support for this and other initiatives that support underrepresented students in our department. The department will actively seek ways to aid BIPOC/immigrant students with the payment of graduate student application fees.
Reduce barriers to graduate school that are disproportionately faced by BIPOC, immigrant and first-generation graduate students. This includes: permanently removing the GRE requirement for graduate admissions (11) (accomplished) and providing helpful advice on what qualities and skills faculty look for in applicants. We will advertise research group openings on our department website and provide increased graduate school preparation and mentoring for our current undergraduates. Furthermore, we will publish frequently asked questions and answers on our website to assist applicants. We will also create a dedicated departmental email address for a committee of faculty and graduate students to answer questions from potential applicants.
Develop a plan to increase diversity within our undergraduate geoscience community. We will continue and expand our bridge mentorship/outreach programs, advertise existing scholarships for underrepresented minorities (URMs) in geosciences, and seek ways to develop a departmental scholarship fund for BIPOC students through increased philanthropic support.
Foster a more inclusive and equitable environment in our department by (i) increasing diversity within our roster of Colloquium speakers, (ii) providing regular EDI training for faculty, staff, and students, and (iii) providing regular training on inclusive pedagogy in the geosciences.
Increase diversity and inclusion within the broader geoscience workforce. We will expand our outreach programs to schools in underserved communities (elementary, high school and community college), and make our colloquia accessible to the public virtually. We will also explore ways to develop new outreach programs to increase the exposure of the field of geosciences to local BIPOC communities, and help faculty to secure external funds to help build a more diverse next generation of geoscientists.
Increase diversity within our faculty roster through continued assessment of our advertising and networking practices to maximize diversity within our applicant pools, by seeking new ways to attract diverse applicants, and by taking full advantage of Stony Brook and SUNY faculty diversity initiatives.
4Liebermann, R., L. Ehm, and G. Gwanmesia (2016), Creating career paths for African-American students in geosciences, Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO052099.
6Our demographics can be found here.
7Persons who are LGBTQ+, BIPOC, or who have disabilities face additional challenges in field work, including harrassment, discrimination, assault, and exclusive culture (Pickrell, 2020).
828% of women of color in astronomy or planetary sciences disciplines stated that they do not feel safe at work because of their race (Clancy et al., 2017).
9The costs of TOEFL/IELTS exams are $180/$240. The exams are offered in few locations that in many cases are far from the student and require additional transportation costs. Thus they serve as economic barriers to students from lower income countries.
11The GRE exam is biased against women compared to men and against BIPOC compared to white and Asian people (Miller and Stassun, 2014), limiting access to graduate education for underrepresented groups. The exam is a better predictor of sex and race of test takers (Petersen et al., 2018) than of success in graduate school (Moneta-Koehler et al., 2017; Petersen et al., 2018).
EDI Commmittee Members
Greg Henkes, Assistant Professor (Committee Chair)
Eashan Das, Graduate Student
- With the exception of the MAT program, the Department will no longer consider the GRE as a requirement for admission to our graduate programs (https://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/geosciences/graduate/apply.php).
- The Graduate Handbook has been updated to include more inclusive language.