Utilize Strategic Partnerships
Your efficacy will be enhanced through partnerships with key individuals, entities, and institutions. Think about what you are trying to accomplish and then identify where there are partners to work with that will move you forward.
Cultivate Proficiency with College Infrastructure and Administration
Understanding how your institution works can be a critical piece of making the change you want to see. Attend meetings of administration, including open forums. Participate in faculty governance entities.
Elizabeth Nagy joined Pasadena City College's Institutional Effectiveness Committee of the College Council that does program reviews for the entire campus, as well as a Natural Science Division Retreat committee to help build a self-sustaining local community of 2YC geoscience faculty who use and promote evidence-based instructional techniques.
Higher education institutions often already have offices and programs in place which are aligned with your goals. Use them! College offices that may be critical partners include:
- Centers for excellence in teaching and learning
- Counseling center
- Institutional research
- Career services
- Multicultural center
- Disability resource center
- Public relations
- Advisory committees or boards
Becca Walker worked with the Mt San Antonio College STEM Center to coordinate and lead a workshop series for STEM students on internships, CV and personal statement writing, and STEM career trajectories.
David Voorhees accepted a position as a Faculty Development Coordinator of the new Faculty Development and Engagement Department at Waubonsee Community College. In this role, he will help provide leadership for advancing the college's goal to foster inclusive teaching excellence to support holistic student success.
Administrators exist for a reason - they can be enablers and gatekeepers for key initiatives. Nurture personal connections between faculty and administrators before making an ask. Understanding their motivations and letting them grease the skids will make it easier for you to enact the change you want to enact.
Create a Community of Practice with Other Committed Faculty
A core group of committed practitioners is useful for maintaining motivation, inspiration, and accountability (positive peer pressure). One of the most effective parts of the SAGE 2YC project has been the integration of the Change Agents into a cohesive community of practice, seeking and receiving advice and guidance from each other as much as from the project leadership.
- Faculty in your department who are passionate about addressing issues you care about
- Cross-departmental collaborations with faculty in other disciplines
- Regional network of geoscience/STEM faculty
- Communities of geoscience education researchers: NAGT's Geoscience Education Research Division
Leverage External Entities
Some strategic partners are outside the college. Depending on the goal or project, they may be critical aides for getting things done.
Strengthening transfer pathways requires working with local four-year institutions. Developing or expanding an internship program needs the buy-in of local industry and agency employers. Providing effective professional development for faculty can greatly benefit from interactions with professional societies. Federal and state agencies can be sources of expertise, funding, and other resources that can aid in initiating or sustaining a change effort. Connecting with existing programs or networks can lower energy barriers to getting up and running.
The Florida team partnered with non-profit organizations (e.g., the Marine Discovery Center and Atlantic Center for the Arts) to pool resources and host a community-wide geoscience event.
During their 2016 workshop, the Oregon: Portland team brought in a local civil engineer and storm water expert to present on local stormwater issues and a culvert blowout in the local community.
The thread running through all of the Northern California team's activities was an attempt to create and strengthen connections and bridges between the many 2YCs and 4YCUs in the San Francisco Bay area.
Partner with Students and Alumni
Students are not only our motivation for enacting change, they are also a key strategic partner! Seek authentic feedback from your students and be willing to understand and act on what you hear. Geology Clubs can be a great asset for reaching out to students not already engaged in your program if you work together. Your alumni can be one of your most powerful tools for showcasing a future in the geosciences so keep track of them and invite them back to talk to current students.
Cheryl Resnick has been developing a series of posters showcasing geoscience alumni to be used in classrooms, outreach events, and advising offices. These 'Just Like Me' posters are meant to counter the narrative that geoscientists are all old white males.
This team is working to increase diversity by establishing an Oceanography Club that offers students opportunities to participate in kayaking, surfing, tidal-pooling, beach clean-ups, and other activities in their local area. These opportunities allow students to learn about their local area while interacting with it directly.