By Catherine Cronquist Browning, Deirdre Mulligan, and Morgan Ames
In December 2020, the I School adopted a five-year Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan for 2020–25. This plan was developed over the course of the 2019–20 academic year and the Fall 2020 semester by the I School’s Diversity Working Group.
In this Year One update, we reflect on our progress during the first year of the plan’s implementation (Spring, Summer, and Fall 2021). We have evaluated our year one progress on each of our five key goals, both as a written reflection and on a five-point scale: 1 - no progress, 2 - some progress, 3 - moderate progress, 4 - good progress, 5 - extensive progress.
Throughout this reflection we use the acronym “DEIBJ” to refer to our work in this area, comprising diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice.
In this first year of our five-year plan, we made good progress on goals 3 and 5, related to providing workshops and activities and schoolwide climate, moderate progress on goals 1 and 2, related to our leadership communications and student, faculty, and staff recruitment, and some progress on goal 4, related to the development of our pedagogical strategies and practices.
Under each goal, we describe representative activities, but this is not intended to be a comprehensive report on every DEIBJ-related activity at the School of Information. Our objective here is not to be exhaustive, but to assess progress on, and share some highlights related to the strategic plan. We also have a more detailed version available for the I School community.
Increase leadership communication internally within our community and with prospective students about our goals and activities in the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in order to hold ourselves accountable.
Goal status: moderate progress (3/5)
During the development of the E&I strategic plan, we heard clearly that we needed to do more to share our DEIBJ-related work. We have made moderate progress in this area. We conducted our first annual survey of inclusion and belonging, with survey results shared with the I School, and we held regular DEIBJ office hours for prospective students. In our communications we used explicit DEIBJ principles to show the authentic diversity of our community; highlight the DEIBJ-related research, teaching, and initiatives in the I School; and describe the DEIBJ values the I School holds.
In the coming year, we will be improving the areas of our website related to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice, among other initiatives.
Recruit and support more faculty, students, and staff from groups historically marginalized from higher education, particularly African American, Latinx, and Native American/Alaska Native people.
Goal status: moderate progress (3/5)
We have made meaningful progress in recruiting and supporting more students from underrepresented minority backgrounds (African American, Latinx/Chicanx, Native American, and/or Alaska Native), from 10.4% in 2020 to 12.7% in 2021. To better support these students, we launched initiatives including the DEIBJ Student Representative program, the I School Graduate Scholars program, and a Leadership Development Program.
We do not currently have any ladder (tenure-track) faculty from underrepresented minority backgrounds, and since the central campus did not grant the I School any new tenure lines this last year, this has not changed. Over 10% of our non-ladder faculty (adjunct professors, continuing lecturers, and lecturers) come from underrepresented minority backgrounds, and 5.8% of our staff come from underrepresented minority backgrounds, slightly up from 3.9% the prior year.
Our focus in the coming year will be on providing strong support for the underrepresented minority students we have admitted and improving our faculty recruitment process in coordination with the Office for Faculty Equity and Welfare.
Provide ongoing workshops, professional development, and engagement opportunities for our community with respect to equity and inclusion.
Goal status: good progress (4/5)
We offered many new workshops and engagement opportunities related to equity and inclusion for the I School community in 2021, including more DEIBJ content for students in all of our degree programs, unconscious bias training for hiring committees, and a Multicultural Education Program workshop for I School faculty and staff.
In the coming year, our focus in this area will be on implementing monthly faculty meeting sessions on equity and inclusion as well as on continuing to improve existing DEIBJ workshop and discussion opportunities for students and staff.
Develop our pedagogical strategies and practices as a school toward two aims: (a) creating a more inclusive classroom environment and (b) incorporating material into courses demonstrating how issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are relevant to information science as a subject matter.
Goal status: some progress (2/5)
In the past academic year, we offered several workshops for our faculty on inclusive teaching, and have been reviewing existing recorded asynchronous online course material for professionalism and inclusivity, a process that is ongoing. We also offered “floating tutors,” academic student employees that support a whole program, to students in the MICS and MIMS programs.
We expect to continue faculty discussions in the coming year about introducing more DEIBJ material into existing courses.
Improve schoolwide climate, particularly with respect to gender inclusivity, including support for women in STEM fields, LGBTQ+, and nonbinary people.
Goal status: good progress (4/5)
This year we conducted our first Equity & Inclusion survey of the I School community, and we hired a new staff position, the Manager of Diversity and Community Initiatives. In addition to the Leadership Development Program mentioned under Goal 2, I School faculty and students helped organize the 2021 Women in Data Science Berkeley conference, and we have provided additional funding for the highly active Women in MIDS group. We have also continued to establish voluntary pronoun sharing as a standard practice in our community.
In the coming year, we will run the Equity & Inclusion survey again, and our DEIBJ working group will attend closely to the results and any year-on-year changes.
As we conclude our review of our first full year of implementing our Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan, we are both excited about how much has been started and accomplished and determined to continue our work and address continuing needs and concerns for our community. In the coming years, we will also address newly arising concerns around areas of disability and accessibility. We also encourage all members of our community to learn more about accessibility and about basic needs resources on campus.
The authors are members of the School of Information’s Diversity Working Group. Additionally, Browning is the assistant dean of academic programs and of equity and inclusion, Mulligan is a professor and the School’s Faculty Equity Advisor, and Ames is an assistant professor of practice and the MIDS Gender Equity Advisor.