Promoting Inclusion in the Geosciences with an Equity-Minded Syllabus
The syllabus provides a first opportunity to leave an impression on your students and can go a long way in helping to promote an inclusive environment in your course, especially for marginalized students. Geoscience disciplines are still among the least diverse fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Changing the culture of the discipline as a whole ultimately begins in the classroom, and the syllabus can provide an opportunity to set the tone for your course and help you establish a partnership with your students in a way that serves the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. The language, tone, and content of your syllabus all have an impact on student impressions, and can ultimately impact the sense of inclusion in your classroom. We share a process and strategies for reviewing and revising your syllabus through an equity lens that was inspired by work from the Center for Urban Education. Among the steps we can take to promote an inclusive environment through our syllabi include: (1) explaining or eliminating jargon that might be unfamiliar to some students, (2) carefully considering the tone we invoke in our classroom policies, (3) finding ways to relate to students on a personal level, and (4) helping students understand what they need to do to be successful in our courses. We also share examples of syllabi from geoscience courses that have been revised through this equity lens.