Building an Inclusive and Diverse Department/Program/Profession

Workplace "Climate"

Is your department/workplace welcoming and inclusive for ALL people? The geosciences have the lowest rate of participation among the STEM disciplines for people from underrepresented groups. What is being done in your department, what can you do personally, to make your work environment inclusive and welcoming to ALL people? "Political correctness" is about respect for human dignity for ALL people. "Locker room banter" is hurtful to many people whether directed towards individuals or not.

Climate: The atmosphere or ambience of an organization as perceived by its members. An organization's climate is reflected in its structures, policies, and practices; the demographics of its membership; the attitudes and values of its members and leaders; and the quality of personal interactions.


  • Athena Swan program--from the UK's Equality Challenge Unit for advancing equality and diversity in colleges and universities; includes a wealth of resources on promoting good relations, and tackling sexual harassment and violence.
  • Center for Changing Our Campus Culture--includes extensive resources on "...the latest research, sample campus policies, protocols, best practices and information on how to access training opportunities and technical assistance."
  • The CSWA Survey of Workplace Climate (AAS Committee on Status of Women in Astronomy; Christina Richey, Kathryn Clancy, Katharine Lee, and Erica Rodgers) reveals systemic issues related to harassment of many types.
  • Climate Control - Gender and Racial Bias in Engineering
  • Dealing With Dysfunction--A Book for University Leaders--Richard Castillo (2017); "...provides a real-life view of a college department gone awry. A complete lack of trust exists between faculty, department chairs past and present; and particularly within the faculty itself. Name calling, sabotage, and an unwillingness to even be in the same room with department colleagues to discuss matters involving student and program concerns have become the norm." Review from Inside Higher Education
  • Enhancing Department Climate A Guide for Department Chairs--Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison; an excellent resource with practical tips.
  • Dealing With Dysfunctional Academic Departments--C. K. Gunsalus, Richard P. Wheeler and Ruth Watkins recommend five linked steps to help academic leaders improve struggling units. From Inside Higher Education, posted March 22, 2017. "What are the core characteristics of vibrant academic units? A unit must be able to: 1) foster student learning of an appropriate quality and volume, 2) conduct research and creative work with impact that meets institutional standards, 3) contribute to the institution's mission through its service and outreach, and 4) sustain ethical, legal and fiscally responsible internal governance." See their
  • How Healthy is Your Academic Department--Nicholas C. Burbules, C. K. Gunsalus, Robert A. Easter and BrandE Faupell have created a tool to help you diagnose problems in your academic unit and identify ways to improve it. From Inside Higher Education posted February 28, 2018. "We have developed a resource that we call the Academic Unit Diagnostic Tool, or AUDiT, a project of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation for research ethics resources."
  • The Impact of Female Chairs--Colleen Flaherty, from Inside Higher Education, posted November 14, 2018. "What a difference a chair makes: study finds female chairs improve departments' gender diversity and equity." See the original article by Andrew Langan, Princeton University Female Managers and Gender Disparities: The Case of Academic Department Chairs

Department Climate Surveys

Your Department or program may want to consider conducting the Survey of Organizational Research Climate (Source)--administered by the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, "The Survey of Organizational Research Climate (SOURCE) is the first validated instrument specifically designed to measure the climate of research integrity in academic organizations. It collects confidential responses from the members of an organization so the perspectives of the members represent the overall measures, once aggregated. Results can help academic and research institutions identify strong and vulnerable departments; assess efficacy of educational approaches; detect where research policies and practices (e.g., concerning data management, etc.) might be improved through RCR instruction; and generally support efforts to bolster research integrity".

Changing the Culture

Whether through institutional, departmental, or professional initiatives (or all of the above), an all-hands effort is needed to change the culture to develop work environments that are safe, inclusive, and welcoming.

Recruitment (Attracting Students) and Retention (Ensuring Success)

  • Teaching assistants are the first line of contact with students who may first encounter our discipline in an introductory course. Here are some suggestions on Preparing TAs to Represent Their Discipline--by Jody D. Nyquist and Donald H Wulff, Chapter 4 Preparing Graduate. Teaching Assistants for Special Challenges in Teaching, Working Efficiently with Graduate Assistants, Sage Publications. Posted in Tomorrow's Professor, January 7, 2019, message 1687. Are your TAs prepared to be your best ambassodors for your department?

Helping Students Develop Intra- and Interpersonal Competencies


Can't we all just get along?

  • Halting Academic Incivility (That's the Nice Word For it)--Patrick M. Scanlon, Chronicle of Higher Education, posted March 13, 2016. Personal and Workgroup Incivility: Impact on Work and Health Outcomes--Sandy Lim, ilia M. Cortina, Vicki J. Magley, Jour. of Applied Psychology, 2008, #1, p. 95-107; "...finding that satisfaction with work and supervisors, as well as mental health, partially mediated effects of personal incivility on turnover intentions and physical health; this process did not vary by gender....showing negative effects of workgroup incivility that emerged over and above the impact of personal incivility".
  • Incivility in the Workplace: Incidence and Impact--Lilia M. Cortina, Vicki J. Magley, Jill H. Williams an Regina D. Langhout, Jour. of Occupational Health Psychology, 2001, vol 6 #1, 64-80; "...This study extends the literature on interpersonal mistreatment in the workplace y examining the incidence, targets, instigators, and impacts of incivility (e.g., disrespect, condescension, degradation)...negative effects on job satisfaction, job withdrawal, and career salience. Uncivil workplace experiences were also associated with greater psychological distress."
  • Dealing With Workplace Incivility--by Ellen de Graffenreid, from Inside Higher Education, posted March 6, 2018. "You can pursue some strategies as a manager to prevent issues ahead of time and to address them when they happen, advises Ellen de Graffenreid."
  • Zweber, Z.M., Henning, R.A., & Magley, V.J. (2016). A practical scale for multi-faceted organizational health climate assessment. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 21, 250-259.
  • Job Stress and Incivility What Role Does Psychological Capital Play?--Sara J. Roberts, Lisa L. Shcerer, Casey J. Bowyer, (2011), Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol 18, Issue 4, pp. 449 - 458
  • Resources for a Respectful Workplace- University of Connecticut
  • Civility Web Site--developed by Dr. P.M. Forni, Johns Hopkins University
  • Of Rocks and Social Justice--Editorial, NATURE GEOSCIENCE, VOL 9, NOVEMBER 2016. "Despite much emphasis on diversity in the US, geoscience remains one of the least diverse scientific disciplines. If we want to achieve and maintain diversity, we need to make our work environments welcoming to a broad spectrum of voices."
  • Inclusive Astronomy--2015 recommendations from the American Astronomical Society; what lessons can be learned for the rest of the geosciences? --Contributed by Carolyn Brinkworth.
  • Building an Inclusive AAS - The Critical Role of Diversity and Inclusion Training for AAS Council and Astronomy Leadership--Carolyn Brinkworth, Allison Byrd Skaer, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Johanna Teske, Sarah Tuttle (2016). White Paper submitted to the AAS Education Task Force.
  • CSWA Survey Workplace Climate and Uncomfortable Conversation About Harassment--AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy report
  • Gender Bias in the Workplace--from UCAR, numerous examples are documented. (Contributed by Carolyn Brinkworth).
  • Values for the Trump Era--by Colleen Flaherty, November 30, 2016 from Inside Higher Education. Philosopher proposes a code of conduct for academics in a time of political uncertainty. MIT faculty members affirm their commitment to shared values.
  • Gendered Skepticism--Colleen Flaherty, January 8, 2015 from Inside Higher Education; New study on online comments suggests big gap in the way men and women perceive evidence of gender bias in sciences.
  • Inclusive Teaching Resources and Strategies--University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching;
  • An international perspective: Science in Australia Gender Equity Athena SWAN Principles
  • Athena Swan--program from the United Kingdom's Equality Challenge Unit for advancing equality and diversity in colleges and universities; includes a wealth of resources on promoting good relations, and tackling sexual harassment and violence. "ECU's equality charters enable organizations to apply for an award recognising their commitment to, and progress on, equality and diversity.

Be Explicit About Your Department's Commitment to Diversity and Inclusiveness

  • Diversity and Inclusion--Put it in the Syllabus!--This posting offers a tangible strategy for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) faculty who want to address diversity and inclusion. It is by Prof. Monica Linden (Neuroscience, Brown University) and Mary Wright, Ph.D. (Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University). See also Sheridan's newsletter. © 2017 Brown University. Reprinted with Permission.From Tomorrow's Professor, message number 1625.

Commitment to Hire a Diverse Faculty

Include an Inclusivity Statement in your Course Syllabus

Inclusive Teaching

  • Inclusive Teaching--tips and strategies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Graduate Studies.

Consider making an affirmative statement about inclusiveness in your department role/scope/mission/vision statements and on your department webpage.

Here are some examples:

  • Guidelines for Faculty, Research Scientists, Students, and Staff of the Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin--guidelines for faculty, staff, graduate students, departments school and programs.
  • Jackson School of Geosciences Workplace Issues--from University Texas Austin, policies, procedures, resources on Bullying, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Hostile workplace environment, Interpersonal Violence, Faculty-Student advisee relationship issues, academic integrity.
  • Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University has developed a departmental values statement to "...represent our departmental culture, guide us as we interact as professional colleagues, influence how we make decisions, and frames a vision for our future"; and
  • Department of Geosciences, Baylor University affirms that "Members of the Baylor Geosciences Department, as part of the international geoscience community, are expected to abide by the AGU Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy" .
  • Middle Tennessee State University Geosciences Code of Conduct--modeled after the American Geophysical Union's 2017 Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Handbook.
  • Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences has developed this value statement:
    • We strive to:
      Act with integrity in research, teaching and service;
      Mentor our students for current and future success;
      Treat our stakeholders and each other with collegiality and mutual respect;
      Create an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment for all; and
      Embody Ut Prosim ("That I May Serve") through effective outreach and service.
  • Here is the MIT Statement of Shared Values
  • The University of California system issued this statement of UC's Principles Against Intolerance--President Janet Napolitano and Chancellors.

Does your department or program have a specific Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan?

Ethical Leadership

Standards of behavior and expectations in a department/program/company are set at the top. Senior faculty/managers/ heads-chairs have a responsibility to set the example for subordinates in the organization. Here are some reflections on Ethical Leadership:

  • Ethical Leadership, Part 1: Perilous at the Top--"The moral example set by leaders has a major impact upon the behavior of their subordinates, both good and bad, ethical and unethical. Despite their career success, leaders may be particularly vulnerable to ethical lapses." From Ethics Unwrapped, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas-Austin.
  • Ethical Leadership, Part 2: Best Practices--"Psychological research provides guidance as to how leaders can create a workplace culture that encourages ethical behavior by employees." From Ethics Unwrapped, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas-Austin.
  • Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Excellence--by C.K. Gunsalus, Jeremy D. Meuser, Nicholas C. Burbules, Robert A. Easter and Sebastian Wraight, posted to Inside Higher Eduation March 22, 2018; "How can academic leaders foster a culture of excellence in their departments and other units? Highly ranked units are almost always characterized by a culture that fosters excellence in student mentoring, instruction, research and service to the university and beyond...Such a culture doesn't occur and endure by accident. Both administrative and faculty leaders must cultivate it through a particular mind-set and deliberate actions."
  • On the Road to Champion--Deborah S. Willis, from Inside Higher Education, posted arch 26, 2018. Advice for how to become a diversity, equity and inclusion leader.

Some Thoughts on Faculty Annual Performance Reviews

Annual performance reviews of faculty are typically limited to some metrics regarding research productivity, teaching (effectiveness, quality, student credit hour production, credit hours generated), and some form of service (to the department, institution, local community, profession). What is not accounted for are contributions to departmental "climate" and contributions to the effective operation of departmental functions. Call it citizenship, civility, a former department head, I needed some way to record and acknowledge faculty good behaviors (stepping up to help with extracurricular department functions such as meeting with prospective students/parents, leading departmental field trips, etc) and to note problematic behaviors and actions that impacted departmental functions in a negative manner (e.g., some simple things related to getting budget and travel documents submitted appropriately and on time, incidents of non-professional behaviors such as bullying, inability to respond to Dean's requests in a timely fashion....). In my opinion, Faculty performance reviews are inadequate if they only address teaching, research service. As department head, I needed additional latitude to also report on professionalism, civility, and departmental citizenship. It is often the case that one or more "bad actor" individuals suck the life out of departmental functions, and command/demand a disproportionate amount of departmental resources and time of faculty and leaders. And beyond commenting in annual reviews about behaviors that impact department life, there should be some type of rewards and recognition system that recognizes good behaviors (released time, as a partial basis for merit salary adjustments) or bad (requirements to attend professional development workshops to address these behaviors, assignments of extra or alternative duties....). This is a controversial subject. Many faculty will view these comments as a power push to justify administrative decisions. These topics will have to be considered in the broader context of Faculty Codes of Conduct, rules established by the Faculty Senate, or possibly in regard to union contracts. In any case, I urge you to at least start the conversation. Develop departmental standards for annual performance reviews that recognize and reward good behaviors that have positive influences on departmental life, and that address (and require training or remediation) of unprofessional behaviors that impact department climate and functions in negative ways. These comments are strictly the responsibility of the author, David Mogk, Montana State University).

  • Faculty Evaluations: Accounting for the "Unmeasurables"--This posting looks at the importance of making unwritten rules about faculty performance more explicit. It is by L. Allen Furr and J. Emmett Winn* and is from The Department Chair: A Resource for Academic Administrators, Fall, 2017, Vol. 28, No. 2. Copyright © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. For further information on how to subscribe, as well as pricing and discount information, please contact, Sandy Quade, Account Manager, John Wiley & Sons, Phone: (203) 643-8066} From Tomorrow's Professor, posting 1606.

Toxic Dumping--"Pass the Harasser"

If you have a "problem" faculty member, consider the ethical implications of writing good letters of recommendation to dispose of your problem by facilitating a faculty hire at another institution. Is there an obligation for authors of letters of reference to disclose matters of record that relate to unprofessional behavior, interpersonal conflicts and policy violations? And how should issues of confidentiality and privacy be handled?

Blacklisting an Institution

A situation you want to avoid: as incidents of sexual harassment and bullying are becoming more public, the reputations of departments and institutions are increasingly coming under scrutiny: was there sufficient institutional response to protect the targets of sexual harassment and sanctions appropriate to the severity of the trangression(s) imposed on the perpetrator? At least one institution is under fire for inadequate response to these situations.