IChange Update

Mar 10, 2023

By: Robin Tinghitella, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Sarah Watamura, Professor and Chair of Psychology

This year marks the third year of DU’s engagement in the NSF INCLUDES IChange Network. The IChange Network is a group of universities working to broaden participation for STEM faculty through institutional culture change. In our third year of work, we are engaging in a faculty-led effort to develop DU’s IChange action plan. We are delighted to co-lead this effort and offer this update on our progress.

In October of 2022, we wrote to all appointed DU faculty to ask if they identified as STEM faculty and if they would like to be kept apprised of IChange efforts. Our goal was to be as inclusive of STEM faculty across campus as possible, and we were ecstatic when nearly 200 faculty from all twelve of DU’s colleges responded positively! This is over 25% of all full-time appointed faculty at DU, which speaks to how eager our colleagues are to work towards a more welcoming and inclusive community.

Next, we considered the work ahead of us and thought deeply about how to engage the broader faculty with developing DU’s action plan, and envision a future in which our strategic goals become actualized. We reached out to our nearly 200 interested colleagues and offered specific options for engaging in the IChange work. More than 65 faculty volunteered to be involved as members of (i) a working group dedicated to co-creating our draft IChange action plan,(ii) an advisory board comprised of individuals with one or more identities historically excluded from higher education to evaluate the draft action plan, (iii) members of a working group of unit liaisons to help elevate unit-specific priorities, or (iv) as part of implementation teams that would work to pilot action plan ideas within units. We are overwhelmed with the outstanding response and look forward to working with all of you.

Throughout this time, we have also stayed in close contact with DU’s NSF ADVANCE MERISTEM grant team. DU MERISTEM is in year one, of a three-year grant. IChange and MERISTEM have a lot of synergy, and we are working actively to collaborate in our efforts to improve hiring practices and make meaningful shifts in culture that improve the experience of STEM faculty with historically excluded identities. Included on the MERISTEM team and central to university-wide efforts are our colleagues in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, notably Kristin Deal.

This week, we begin our work with the action plan writing team—a group of faculty representing seven of DU’s diverse colleges. The work of this team will draw on feedback from the IChange advisory board and unit liaisons, setting the stage for our implementation teams to pilot programs within their units.

Please reach out to either of us (robin.tinghitella@du.edu or sarah.watamura@du.edu) if you would like to talk about IChange goals or process, or to get involved. We will keep the community updated!

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