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ESF Launches Program to Ensure Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity on Campuses


The College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) welcomes the fall 2020 semester with Project Inclusion, a campus-wide initiative that encompasses every area of the College and invites every member of campus to engage. The effort is based on the New England Resource for Higher Education Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education. This effort and related instruments will be used to continue the College's commitment to bridging gaps and integrating evidence-based quality initiatives, best practices, and the latest information into our processes to ensure inclusion, diversity, and equity on our campuses.

"The results we realize this semester with Project Inclusion will provide a baseline structural review of each ESF unit with respect to inclusion, diversity, and equity," said Dr. Malika Carter, the College's chief diversity officer. "I expect members of the College community will pilot various programs and initiatives across the enterprise. Once the rubric is complete, areas requiring intervention will be clear, strategic goals can be set, and the ESF Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee and the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity can set realistic objectives in partnership with campus units that will strengthen our community. After a period of implementation, the rubric will be re-administered to determine evidence of change."

College officials expect that it will take two years to fully realize results from this effort. The self-assessment rubric contains six dimensions, each of which includes a set of components that characterize that dimension. These components represent key areas to examine in order to institutionalize diversity, equity, and inclusion. For each component, three stages of development have been established: emerging, developing, and transforming. Progression through the stages suggests that the institution is moving closer to fully institutionalizing diversity, inclusion, and equity on its campus. Also, for each component, there must be accompanying indicators provided that evidence the change in policy, practices, structures, culture and climate. Indicators may range from formal indicators such as campus climate surveys, equity/diversity/inclusive excellence scorecards, and qualitative interviews to informal indicators, such as collected data from anecdotal evidence and ad hoc focus groups.

"Project Inclusion using the NERCHE Rubric model is a long-term commitment," said Carter. "Goals are tied to institutional strategic commitments and designed to facilitate positive change relative to diversity, inclusion, and equity. Our overriding goal is to create change within the community, whereby all community members feel safe, comfortable, supported and able to successfully meet their responsibilities as well as their professional or student potential."