Full disclosure: I had shoulder surgery last week, so this post is likely to be a little disjointed (pardon the pun).
I’m really proud to work at an institution that recognizes the value of attracting diverse students to higher education. NRES has a fellowship to support underrepresented students and there are many university-wide initiatives available to highly qualified students. It sounds cheesy, but there is real value in diversity. Ideological diversity is the key to creativity and novel problem identification and solving. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I am keenly aware of the ability of a new perspective to disrupt assumptions. Gender, race, class, geography, sexuality, and countless other differences shape our perspective on the world. Encountering and engaging across and life experiences allows the opportunity for greater synthesis and appreciation for the nuances of living on earth. In the highly political climate we’re living in, it is easy to shut off and shut down ideas that are different. But isn’t science all about testing assumptions? I think so. And I think that is my liberal education talking. (And by liberal, I mean – open to alternative viewpoints, not necessarily .)
The value of diversity beyond establishing adequate representation of social groups that are recognized as underrepresented in science – has been manifest in the the evolution of my own Los Rios Faculty Diversity Internship Program in Sacramento. For a semester, I discussed teaching the most diverse group of learners you can imagine– community — with the most diverse group of teachers you can imagine — community college instructors. (To learn more about trends community college enrollment and their role as lifelong learning, terminal technical training, and bachelor degree preparation, I suggest reading the Chronicle of Higher Education). Discussing classroom management and watching movies from the 1990s that took a tokenism approach to diversity resulted in some vibrant, respectfully heated discussion that revealed how experience frames our interpretation of reality. My shoulder hurts, and typing one handed is hard, so I’ll have to come back and update this post later. But I wanted to shout out to UIUC and the other universities supporting multiple innovative strategies to attract, support, and graduate a diverse and highly capable workforce.and research. One clear example was in discussion at the