University Receives $1 Million to Support Diversity, Inclusion in STEM Education

Stony Brook University has received a five-year, $1 million grant to support diversity and inclusion in STEM education. The funding will be used to create faculty learning communities focused on developing inclusive practices in the classroom and laboratory.

Diversity group

Ross Nehm, center, leads Stony Brook’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative. He is developing the program with University faculty colleagues, from left: Gregory Rushton, Bonita London, Nora Galambos and Scott Sutherland.

The grant, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence Initiative, is intended to help increase the capacity of higher education institutions to engage students from diverse ethnic, family and economic backgrounds and nontraditional students such as military veterans, to be successful in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

“Stony Brook University has an unwavering commitment to diversity – anchored in our strong values of access and inclusiveness,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “Prof. Nehm and his team are to be commended for the care and commitment it required to create a proposal that establishes a roadmap to success for our underserved students seeking to get the most from their Stony Brook STEM education. This HHMI award is another example of how Stony Brook works with students coming from lower income households and helps them move into the top 20% of the income earning potential.”

“This is a tremendous achievement for Ross Nehm and his team. We congratulate them and applaud their exemplary efforts to empower faculty to foster inclusiveness in the classroom,” said Michael A. Bernstein, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Their work will powerfully strengthen Stony Brook’s mission to promote diversity throughout our institution.”

According Project Director, Ross Nehm, Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolution in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook, a variety of classroom assessment and faculty training activities will be developed to enhance STEM instruction to address diverse needs. He and colleagues Bonita London (Psychology), Gregory Rushton (Chemistry), Scott Sutherland (Mathematics), and Nora Galambos (Institutional Research and Effectiveness) are establishing an interdisciplinary faculty research team for the initiative. The first step will be a period of coordinated innovation and evaluation of education practices. From there, the interdisciplinary team will focus efforts on:

  • Fostering a more inclusive campus community that embraces current research on successful science engagement practices;
  • Purging psychosocial barriers to inclusion from course designs and faculty behaviors;
  • Constructing a broad array of novel learning pathways aligned with student needs and characterized by supportive classroom climates and faculty mindsets;
  • Providing more effective experiences for underprepared students to succeed through coordinated feedback between instructional actions and co-curricular student support services; and,
  • Building a more coordinated network of action through Faculty Learning Communities, Summer Institutes, and external change agents.

“I’m very proud of the efforts of our faculty across the College to aid in the success of students from diverse populations,” says Sacha Kopp, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This aligns with several efforts to create an inclusive, welcoming environment. Each of our faculty involved in this initiative brings a passion for enhancing the diversity of our college in the STEM fields.”

For more information about HHMI initiative see this press release and feature story.

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