It’s been nearly a year since Catalina Albury, Suchinta Arif and Melanie Duc Bo Massey first envisioned Diversity of Nature, a BIPOC-focused, BIPOC-led educational experience aimed at engaging and encouraging students who face barriers to getting involved in STEM. Since being funded by MEOPAR’s Fathom Fund (and 123 crowdfund supporters) in fall 2020, the trio of grad students has been preparing for the launch of their workshops—but also hard at work researching and writing about strategies for better representation in science and academia.
Last week, Albury, Arif and Massey published Ecology and evolutionary biology must elevate BIPOC scholars, a paper guided by their own experiences that outlines four actionable ways that people and institutions in power positions can promote equity.
“Last year, we saw a lot of publications directed at BIPOC scholars that gave us valuable advice on protecting ourselves from inequitable frameworks in the Academy. However, at the end of the day, we felt that it was unfair to ask that we take on additional burdens to protect ourselves against racial inequity. We started to ask questions about whose responsibility it is to create equitable racial climates,” says Massey of the paper’s call-to-action. “Ultimately, we decided that those in power could make the biggest positive changes for us, and that in fact, it should be considered an ethical obligation for them. In addition to all of this, in our discussions with faculty and other powerful scientists, we found that many of them wanted to help, but weren’t sure how they could be involved. We hope this piece answers those questions and inspires powerful allies to stand with us.”
In researching solutions for the lack of diversity in ecology and biology, Massey and her co-authors have enjoyed stepping outside of their science to learn explore education and pedagogy.
“It was exciting to learn about which strategies work, and to envision them being enacted in science. For example, we learned that incorporating Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing) in education promotes retention and success of Indigenous students, and about the pros and cons of EDI training. We really enjoyed being able to write something that leverages and highlights our own experiences, and published literature to create a more holistic and effective piece.”
Photo by Carolina Andrade