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About

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

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Statement

Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our culture and to our mission as a public educational institution. We strive to create an inclusive and welcoming environment where people of all backgrounds, who bring a range of perspectives and life experiences, are welcomed, heard and supported. We celebrate and value differences among our students, faculty and staff; this includes diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ability/disability, age, socioeconomic background, academic experience and veteran status.

We acknowledge that systemic racism exists in our society and our institutions, including academic institutions. We believe that Black lives matter. We are committed to anti-racism: to acknowledge, understand and directly confront the historical inequities in our field and the structures and barriers that have led to those inequities.

We value and acknowledge the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. We are committed to a departmental culture that is supportive and welcoming for all people, including American Indian/Alaska Native students, staff and faculty.

Relevance to civil and environmental engineering

Diverse teams are crucial for success in engineering projects and organizations. Diversity brings new ideas and life experiences to the field; diverse teams are more likely to design inclusive solutions for all of society. Encouraging and supporting a diverse engineering community is important for building a vibrant UW CEE and society at large.

CEE, like many engineering fields, has too often focused only on equations and the application of chemistry, math and physics to solve narrowly defined engineering problems, without acknowledging that engineering can reflect and impose inequality. Civil engineering infrastructure has been used to perpetuate and enforce racial segregation. Environmental engineering has too often ignored environmental racism, with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities bearing the brunt of pollution. We are committed to doing better, in the education and research that our department delivers.

What are we doing?

Words are not enough. Our community is taking concrete actions toward a diverse and actively inclusive and equitable environment. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable for making progress toward these goals; we hope others will do the same.

In 2018, our Department Chair established a faculty led Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee, whose work has accelerated in recent months. Below, we list JEDI currently-in-progress activities that have been initiated since spring 2020; recently completed activities (e.g., changes to tenure criteria) are below that. We thank our students for organizing and petitioning the department for meaningful change. We are committed to their vision for a diverse, equitable and inclusive CEE.

Actions need to be short- and long-term. Below are top currently-in-progress items.

JEDI Drop-In Hours

The JEDI co-chairs host weekly “drop in” times (during Winter 2021: Tuesdays, 2:20-2:50pm), which are open to the CEE community. Join at the following link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/96142624116 (requires UW login). On the first meeting of each month (e.g., Tuesday, March 2, 2021), the co-chairs will give a presentation on updates from the department.

Modifying teaching evaluations in the College of Engineering (CEE student petition item)

We have discussed this request with the College of Engineering (CoE) Dean’s Office. Winter 2021: The Dean’s office is currently investigating changes to teaching evaluations across the CoE to include specific questions on JEDI topics and with attention to evaluation biases experienced by underrepresented faculty. They have completed a pilot evaluation and are currently analyzing the data collected from the pilot; they anticipate that all CoE course evaluations will switch to the new questions in Winter 2021.

GRE admission requirements for graduate student applications

GRE scores were optional for fall 2020 due to COVID-19. Winter 2021 status: During 2020-21, CEE faculty will vote on dropping the GRE requirement permanently and potentially replacing it with new questions. This potential shift is motivated in part by concerns regarding equity issues and regarding the GRE’s utility in predicting academic success. Our own analysis of outcomes among CEE grad students found no correlation with GRE scores.

JEDI Moment at faculty meetings

As of January 2021, at each CEE faculty meeting we now include a recurring JEDI Moment where we share a best practice or feature a JEDI initiative in the department. This is intended both to share knowledge and also to highlight the importance of continuous improvement on JEDI issues.

Pursuing equitable bathrooms

More Hall, which houses much of our department, is an old building that has too few women’s restrooms and no dedicated options for non-binary students. The department has requested a quote for options that could address these inequities. Our goal is to begin construction this year (2021), though this is dependent on securing resources.

JEDI metrics (CEE student petition item)

We are actively compiling JEDI-relevant metrics for the CEE community. These include student body demographics, faculty salary reviews by gender and race, and admissions data. We are also developing JEDI questions to add to existing exit surveys taken by CEE undergraduate and graduate students. These data are intended to guide future CEE JEDI initiatives as well as serve as a benchmark to measure future progress.

Family friendly promotion and tenure

As of winter 2021, our faculty are collaborating with the College of Engineering to create more family friendly promotion and tenure guidance that better supports faculty with significant caregiving responsibilities. The evidence suggests this changed guidance would be particularly impactful for our female engineering faculty.

Microaggressions in CEE

In collaboration with outside experts, we are exploring the possibility of issuing a department-wide survey to discover how, when, and where microaggressions happen in CEE. This would be a first step in a larger undertaking to identify and disrupt microaggressions in our community. This survey could be issued as soon as spring quarter 2021.

Adding JEDI content to CEE courses (CEE student petition item)

The JEDI Committee is working to determine what JEDI content is already present in our curriculum and to document additions and changes over time. Multiple classes are adding JEDI course content. We are working to share this information across the department, so faculty may learn from and build on each others’ work.

Promoting the use of JEDI-relevant pedagogy in our department

We are exploring, sharing and promoting teaching practices that support JEDI outcomes within our department. As of Winter 2021, we are documenting practices already in use throughout the department, and seeking expert input regarding new practices faculty may adopt.

Dedicated JEDI course on CEE topics (CEE student petition item)

In Fall 2020, we shifted an existing graduate seminar (open to undergraduate students) to include additional topics related to JEDI research in CEE (e.g., environmental justice). We are planning a 1-credit seminar (grad/undergrad) for Spring 2021 that will focus explicitly on JEDI topics. And, we are in discussion with a well-regarded outside instructor about offering a 3-credit class on environmental justice (Spring 2021).

Exploring a graduate certificate in social justice & engineering

We are currently exploring an option to offer a new graduate certificate in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on social justice. As of Winter 2021, we are exploring the viability of this option.

JEDI Action Accountability sessions

The JEDI Committee holds weekly JEDI Action Accountability sessions, where faculty and staff commit an hour per week to jointly learning or taking action on JEDI issues.

Gathering department-wide input

To provide an opportunity for students, staff and faculty to anonymously share their experiences in our department, a department-wide town hall and listening session have been held. We thank all attendees for their participation. The Zoom recording and poll results are below:

Town Hall: February 2021

Listening Session: June 2020

Picture a Scientist movie screening

In collaboration with the Dean’s office, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), we have worked to enable a College of Engineering-wide February screening of Picture a Scientist, which showcases gender equity issues in science and engineering.

  • Watch “Picture a Scientist” during a 72-hour viewing period (noon, Mon 02/22 – noon, Thu 02/25)
  • Attend the “Celebrating All Females in Engineering” (CAFÉ) networking panel & discussion about being a woman in STEM from 4:30 – 6:30pm on Thursday 02/25. Women from a diverse set of companies & industries will discuss the issues unique to their careers in those fields, as well as general topics such as going to graduate school, and leading with resilience. Join the event on Zoom

Trainings and self-education opportunities

Many of our faculty, staff and students have participated in trainings and completed readings about systematic racism, systemic bias and other JEDI topics, and how to work toward solutions. CEE staff and faculty each established a weekly anti-racism reading group specifically for staff and faculty members.

CEE faculty and staff training

We have scheduled formal JEDI training sessions for faculty and staff. This will consist of three sessions in March 2021.

The list above is incomplete! There are many other activities happening in the department and in individual faculty members lab groups. Several faculty members have their own JEDI activities. The CEE undergraduate and graduate student advising blog also contains information about JEDI-related activities and opportunities.

Professors Jessica Kaminsky and Julian Marshall are leading the CEE JEDI Committee in 2020-2021, which began meeting in Fall 2020. We appreciate the donated time of many faculty, staff and students, and the significant efforts of past years’ JEDI committees.

Resources and support

There are many lists online of DEIC-related books, articles, social media and other material. Here are a few examples:

Science magazine: “Time to look in the mirror” editorial

UW Libraries: Racial Justice Resources: Keeping Current

The Seattle Public Library: A Toolkit for Anti-racism Allies

Minority Scholars Engineering Program Open to all students, the Minority Scholars Engineering Program is committed to increasing the number of underrepresented students in engineering and computer science.

Graduate Opportunity and Minority Achievement Program GO-MAP is committed to serving the needs of underrepresented graduate students of color, to enhance equity and graduate student success.

Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships Student Academic Services awards scholarships for minorities throughout the year, including the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and HP Scholar Programs.

Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Washington Provides enriching opportunities in mathematics, engineering and science for underrepresented students in grades K-12.

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Dedicated to empowering Hispanics to become STEM professionals through internship, networking, mentoring and diversity awareness opportunities.

Women in Science and Engineering The WiSE program recruits and supports women of all ethnic backgrounds in science and engineering, to create a more diverse academic and social climate at UW.

National Society of Black Engineers To increase the number of black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community, NSBE sponsors a career fair and other events.

American Indian Science & Engineering Society Educational programs provide opportunities for American Indians and Native Alaskans to pursue studies in science, engineering, business and other academic arenas.

Society of Women Engineers SWE offers scholarships, competitions, job and internship resources and recognition of outstanding achievements through awards.

Society of Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Sciences A national organization, SACNAS promotes diversity in the sciences. Founded by Chicano and Native American scientists, all races are welcome to join in promoting diversity in science.

College of Engineering Diversity & Student Programs Programs provide financial, social, academic and cultural support to engineering students.

Bias Incident, Bias Concern, Non-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Resources: Report a bias incident or speak with a College of Engineering advocate who can serve as a resource to support you.

LiveWell: Offering resources for student advocacy, training and education, LiveWell empowers students with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions about their health and well-being while at UW.

Counseling center: UW students are eligible for services at the Counseling Center.

The Q Center: A brave, affirming, liberatory and celebratory environment for students, faculty, staff and alumni of all sexual and gender orientations, identities and expressions.

UW Disability and D/deaf Cultural Center: Throughout the year, the D Center hosts events, programs and workshops focusing on supporting and celebrating UW disability and D/deaf communities.

Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center: A wealth of resources and opportunities available to students including student advising, organizational development, personal growth and referrals to different departments and programs.

UW Veterans Center Connect with other veterans and find university resources specifically designed for veterans.

Student Parent Resource Center If you have children age 12 or younger who need child care during the academic year, you may be eligible for assistance through the University's Student Parent Resource Center.

Women's Center Offers free services to women who are considering returning to school after a significant time away or who need additional support and advice in making the transition to college.

Disability Services Office Committed to providing reasonable academic accommodations to qualified students with disabilities at the UW.

Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology DO-IT is a support organization that serves to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities through the use of computer and networking technologies.

Office of Minority Affairs Programs and services that promote multiculturalism, student access and academic achievement.

Diversity at the UW In support of diversity across UW’s three campuses, the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity offers a number of resources.

UW Carelink (for faculty and staff) and UW MentalHealth (for students) provide access to counseling and other services.

How will we be held accountable?

We are committed to holding ourselves accountable and to making real and sustained progress toward our goals. We commit to regular (bi-annual) updates of JEDI activities within our department via this web site and, as appropriate, other outlets. Main completed tasks are below.

We hope you will hold us accountable, too, and will let us know when we fall short. Do you see opportunities for improvement, is there a project you think we should add to our list, or would you like to get involved in making positive change? The JEDI Committee and our department chair welcome your input. You may contact us by email (Jessica Kaminsky, jkaminsk@uw.edu; Julian Marshall, jdmarsh@uw.edu) or by using the anonymous JEDI feedback form.

Update from Fall 2020.

Completed activities

Promotion and tenure criteria that rewards JEDI efforts (CEE student petition item)

Our JEDI Committee is working with the College of Engineering (CoE) Dean’s Office to support updates to the Engineering Promotion and Tenure faculty toolkit that explicitly recognize and reward faculty JEDI efforts. Fall 2020 status: In September 2020, the CoE Dean’s Office approved the language changes we proposed. We will continue to track and support these changes.

Pandemic caregiving support for the CEE community

The ongoing global pandemic is having enormous consequences for faculty, staff and students, especially those who have caregiver responsibilities. Seattle Public Schools have moved online for Fall 2020, which will strongly impact families in Seattle. While the pandemic is far from over, the university has now taken on a number of programs – something that as a department we are too small to initiate. We have listed below some of the activities.

Our department chair has talked with faculty members, especially female faculty members, who statistically are disproportionately impacted by caregiving responsibilities, to determine accommodations for the caregivers in our community. She has given recommendations to UW’s newly established Caregivers Committee, is investigating teaching and service loads for faculty and has reached out to connect with students who are parents. See Caring for self and family and COVID-19 Caregiver Task Force for more information.

Fostering inclusivity through a virtual cajitas project

Led by CEE graduate students, and inspired by an anti-racism online training many CEE community members participated in, we are implementing a version of a cajitas project. The goal is to help foster an inclusive community for new undergraduate students in our department. Cajitas (small wooden boxes filled with family artifacts and belongings) were carried by Mexican migrants; in this virtual version, incoming students provide a short video introducing something meaningful to them to their fellow students and the department. Fall 2020 status: Implemented.

Website updates

We have extensively revised the CEE JEDI website. New features include clear statements about our values, an anonymous JEDI feedback form, data from the first listening session, and an itemized list of concrete JEDI progress within the department. Fall 2020 status: Implemented.

An archive of prior versions of this web page is available.