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Update on Initiative for Social Justice

CIERA is committed to creating a welcoming, safe, and inclusive community for everyone. Every person connected to CIERA, including its visitors, upholds our shared values by seeking diverse perspectives and deliberately working to increase access and equity of people from marginalized groups. We recognize that true excellence only comes from the meaningful integration of all perspectives in our community and culture.

CIERA has established a Social Justice Coordinating Committee (SJCC) to oversee CIERA’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts, most of which are managed by dedicated task forces. The SJCC includes representation from faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students. Approximately 50% of CIERA faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students are directly involved in our SJ activities as SJCC or task force members, and many more participate regularly in other ways.

Below we share progress we’ve brought about as of the start of Fall 2020.

Visitor Program Improvement

  • To help create a diverse and representative Visitors Program at CIERA, we developed a new Speaker Suggestion Form and Resource Page. These tools help with our deliberate effort to bring BIPOC, Women, and LGBTQ+ scientists to campus, as well as visitors who can speak on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in STEM.
  • To analyze the demographics of our Visitors Program going back 10 years, we are in the progress of confidentially collecting historical data from past visitors to CIERA.

Sustainable Activism Newsletter

  • To provide a variety of activism resources and opportunities to those at CIERA, we circulate an internal newsletter.

CIERA Community Climate Improvement

  • To work towards a shared reality on a wide array of anti-racism and social justice issues, we organize a weekly internal meeting with reading material, active discussions, group trainings, and more.
  • To provide a mechanism for feedback on issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CIERA, the SJCC receives submissions via an anonymous form. The form includes resources for incident reporting tools and confidential support services.
  • To better support underrepresented graduate students in STEM, we are investigating admissions processes and retention issues.
  • A subcommittee of the SJCC stays informed on the latest issues affecting our international students, postdocs, and faculty and shares key updates.

Education & Outreach Programs

  • To ensure that we reach younger students in most need of STEM enrichment, we developed guiding principals for our K-12 education and outreach programs and are developing new programming to better meet the needs of these students and teachers.
  • CIERA researchers have increased our involvement with the Northwestern Prison Education Program, by sharing information about the program and volunteering as tutors and course instructors for people who are incarcerated.
  • Ongoing educational programs, including Reach for the Stars, High School Summer Research Experience in Astronomy, REU, IDEAS and more, continue deliberate efforts to engage and support students from marginalized groups in all stages of STEM education.

Learn more about CIERA’s social justice initiative.

See the current update from action leaders in Northwestern’s central administration.