SAGE Musings: the SAGE 2YC Project Blog

The SAGE Musings blog features posts that address topics related to supporting students' academic success, facilitating students' professional pathways in the geosciences, broadening participation in the geosciences, and catalyzing change. Although written for geoscience faculty at two-year colleges, most posts are relevant for any STEM faculty member. Check out the collection of posts and share them with your colleagues.

Blog posts were published bi-weekly from April, 2016 through October, 2019. Future blog posts will be published ad hoc. Sign up here to receive future blog posts as email messages.



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SAGE Musings: Teaching Activities Incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Posted: Nov 16 2021 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College, and members of the URGE 2YC pod: Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine; Karen Helgers, SUNY Ulster County Community College; Megan Jones, North Hennepin Community College; Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College

Part 1: Ready-to-use teaching activities

During the winter and spring of 2021, eleven 2YC geoscience faculty members -- including six SAGE 2YC Change Agents -- participated in the NSF-funded project URGE: Unlearning Racism in Geoscience. One aspect of this project was putting ideas into action. We have assembled a collection of teaching activities for incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion in geoscience courses. Many of these activities are also suitable for, or could be adapted to, other STEM courses, and they are appropriate for introductory geoscience courses at any institution of higher education. More

SAGE Musings: Resources for Incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Geoscience Courses


Posted: Nov 16 2021 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College, and members of the URGE 2YC pod: Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College; Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine; Karen Helgers, SUNY Ulster County Community College

Part 2: Resources for developing teaching activities

During the winter and spring of 2021, eleven 2YC geoscience faculty members -- including six SAGE 2YC Change Agents -- participated in the NSF-funded project URGE: Unlearning Racism in Geoscience. One aspect of this project was putting ideas into action. In a previous Musing ("Part 1"), we assembled a collection of teaching activities for incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion in geoscience courses. In addition, here we present a list of resources that we are using, planning to use, or thinking about using to develop additional teaching activities. More

SAGE Musings: Black, Brown, and Bruised in STEM


Posted: Oct 15 2021 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

Earlier this year I read Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation, by Ebony Omotola McGee, Ph.D., and I thought I'd share my thoughts with all of you. Spoiler alert: I recommend it highly!!

The first several chapters (1-4) summarize the underrepresentation of BIPOC humans in STEM, and the problems inherent in that. There was one line that particularly caught my attention: "Asking URM students to continually be resilient and rise above racist policies, practices, and actions over and over again without appropriate supports is in actuality a form of oppression, with outcomes that can be deleterious and at worst deadly" (p. 60).

Chapter 5 highlights what approaches have been successful at broadening participation in STEM, in what settings. The vast majority of this chapter is about things that individual faculty members, or small groups of faculty members, can do. For example: More

2020 Summer Reading Recommendations


Posted: Jun 15 2020 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

I take a break in publishing the SAGE Musings blog over the summer. I also like to make more time for reading over the summer. I've asked the project leaders and participants for summer reading recommendations, and here they are.... Race and racism in America are clearly on our minds. Feel free to add your own recommendations using the comment thread at the bottom of this page! More

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SAGE Musings: Building Online Academic Communities


Posted: Jun 4 2020 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

As the academic world moves online, several of my colleagues have expressed an interest in knowing more about how to build an online community, both in their courses and for events such as online academic conferences. Thinking about this question reminds me of what we have learned from years of running online professional development events for the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project, from relatively short book clubs, journal clubs, and implementation groups to semester-long online workshops. On reflection, what I see is that we have translated face-to-face community-building practices into the online environment, in ways that take advantage of the affordances of that environment whenever that's possible. More

SAGE Musings: Working from Home


Posted: Apr 2 2020 by

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

As much of the world makes a rather sudden shift to working from home, one of my colleagues recently asked for my advice on how to work from home effectively. She expressed some difficulty in focusing on work, and she knows I've been teleworking for years. As I told her, I don't think that her struggles to focus on work right now stem from working from home; I suspect that she, like so many of us, is simply struggling to focus on work in the midst of a pandemic. That said, here are some thoughts about what might help if you are experiencing that struggle, too.

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SAGE Musings: How Will Cohort 3 Be Different?


Posted: Oct 24 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

We're getting ready to launch the 3rd iteration of the SAGE 2YC project! The November 1st (2019) deadline for applications to be part of the 3rd cohort of faculty Change Agents is fast approaching. How will the 3rd phase of this project be different than the first two?

I see three significant differences between cohort 3 and cohorts 1 & 2:

  1. Professional development will be limited to a one-year timeline;
  2. Faculty Change Agents from cohorts 1 & 2 will be involved in planning and delivering that professional development; and
  3. We are explicitly supporting applications from multi-disciplinary cohort 3 Change Agent teams. More

SAGE Musings: Impostor Syndrome


Posted: Oct 17 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

The Impostor Syndrome: that persistent, pernicious feeling that you aren't really qualified for the position you find yourself in -- that sooner or later, someone is going to find out that you are a "fraud" (e.g., see references). Originally described as a phenomenon affecting high-achieving women (Clance and Imes, 1978), the impostor "syndrome" is now widely recognized as affecting men in equal numbers (Laursen, 2008). Although I've been unable to find a reference describing how prevalent the impostor phenomenon is in STEM, it appears to be fairly common, prompting one Engineering professor to write a short article entitled "Impostors Everywhere" (Felder, 1988). In any case, it affects both faculty members and students (e.g. Felder, 1988; Laursen, 2008; Campbell, 2019). Fortunately, there are effective strategies for addressing and overcoming these feelings. More

SAGE Musings: Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Department Level


Posted: Oct 3 2019 by Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College

At the 2019 meeting of the Geological Society of America, one of my colleagues from graduate school asked me for a list of actions that her department could take to address diversity, equity, and inclusion. This immediately reminded me of our -- as yet unpublished -- SAGE 2YC Departmental Practices Inventory, a tool familiar to every faculty Change Agent involved in the project. The full Departmental Practices Inventory (DPI) addresses all three of the SAGE 2YC: Faculty as Change Agents project strands: supporting the academic success of all students, broadening participation in the geosciences, and facilitating students' professional pathways. This inventory, which is based on the research literature, can be used by any department to self-assess its alignment with evidence-based practices related to these goals. For this Musing, I've mined the DPI for "action items" a department could take to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These items are related to attracting, supporting, and engaging a diverse population of students, including fostering a sense of belonging among students in your department or program. I would be amazed if any department does all of these things. However, if your department is not as diverse as your institution's student population, I encourage you to implement an idea or several from the list below. More

SAGE Musings: What We Are Learning From Our Project Evaluation


Posted: Sep 12 2019 by Debra Bragg, Bragg & Associates

Summary Results from our 4th Annual Report to the National Science Foundation

Evaluation of the fourth year of the SAGE 2YC project provided valuable insights into what's changing in the work of two cohorts of geoscience faculty Change Agents. Our theory of change is rooted in a professional development model that has two major goal domains of increasing evidence-based practices and building sustainable leadership. This model also stresses improving instructional practices, broadening participation of underrepresented students, and enhancing students' professional pathways. The model also purports that engaging faculty Change Agents in systematic reflection and inquiry on the changes they are making independently and in collaboration with others will promote continued improvement in 2YC geoscience education that leads to improved student outcomes. Faculty Change Agents are encouraged to share what they're learning with other faculty and staff in their colleges and in their regions. Through their engagement in a cycle of innovation, the Change Agents and their 2YCs learn about what changes in their own practice lead to more equitable student outcomes, and they network with other 2YC geoscience educators to scale these lessons to their colleges and other colleges and universities in their regions. More

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