Geology Department Statement

on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in the Geosciences

The Geology Department holds that all students should have an equitable opportunity to engage in our classes, use our spaces, and build relationships with faculty and students. We value diversity in its multiple dimensions and understand that including all voices and perspectives leads to better science and stronger communities. However, we recognize that contemporary and long-standing discrimination, implicit bias, and oppression have created a culture that diminishes equity and inclusion, both locally and more broadly.

The social, economic, and political systems of oppression that led, for example, to the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black people, the taking of Indigenous lands, the exclusion of women from positions of power and other wrongs are still in evidence. Academia has been complicit in these systems, replicating and engineering obstacles to exclude broad groups of people, and indeed, the geosciences have a long history of lacking diversity. The Gustavus geology department acknowledges this issue and will take substantive steps toward change. 

We seek to create learning environments that are inclusive and equitable and that foster a sense of belonging for every student. We commit to the following actions:

1. Faculty will implement various demonstrated strategies for improving diversity, equity and inclusion, for example: 

  • revising our style and method of course instruction (e.g., how we engage in small group work/discussion, representation of who works in this field and who has contributed to the geosciences, etc.)
  • using best practices and innovating solutions for making laboratory spaces equitable and inclusive
  • making fieldwork safe, welcoming and accessible to students with diverse needs and backgrounds
  • constructing learning experiences that include all students and that leverage their unique perspectives to build great depth to a learning experience

2. The department will establish a training program for its staff, faculty, and teaching assistants with the intention of reducing implicit bias and fostering a safe, welcoming environment in our classes, labs and fieldtrips

3. Faculty will engage with student leaders of the Geology Club to help identify opportunities for improving inclusivity in geology club-led events

4. Faculty will solicit feedback from all students on a regular basis regarding their experience in classroom, laboratories, and fieldtrips

5. This work will become an ongoing area of focus for our department. Faculty will begin a long-term assessment of our department and program to identify areas where privilege, exclusionary practices, and implicit bias exist, in order to reduce disparities and create equitable access. This assessment will focus on classroom environments, laboratories, fieldtrips, depictions of science history, and questions of lifestyle/career balance in geoscience careers. 

January 2021