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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Department of Entomology is committed to creating an environment where diverse community members can thrive. We recognize that our department is not reflective of the diversity of our society as a whole and are striving to reconcile this disparity. We are committed to:

  • Diversifying our students, staff, and faculty
  • Transforming the culture in the department through education and action (short term and long term)
  • Engaging our community and listening to everyone’s voices with emphasis on those underrepresented. 
  • Increasing transparency and communicating with the community, to share what we are doing and why we are doing this

Ongoing Initiatives

Education

A crucial component in reducing bias in the Department is being educated about the issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Several people within the Entomology Department have led different initiatives that increase our awareness of DEI issues at the national and international level, within and outside academia. 

As part of this initiative two seminars have been created:

ENTOM 4040. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in STEM: The Science Behind Bias. Instructor: Corrie Moreau. Taught initially Fall 2020, 1 credit. Will be taught again in Spring 2022 and every Spring after. This course covers the historical context of bias and exclusion in science. Students read from and discuss the primary literature to understand the science of bias and why it is present and how it has continued to persist across the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and identify actionable items to address and overcome these issues.  Undergraduate and graduate students in the class were very actively engaged and shared they were very happy to see a course like this focusing on issues and solutions with a focus on STEM. Read more via the Cornell Sun and the Cornell Chronicle.

ENTOM 4940. Special Topics in Entomology: Racial Justice Book Discussion. Instructors: Kara Fikrig and Samantha Willden Faculty Advisor: Katja Poveda. This course began as a book club in Fall 2020 where participants educated themselves on racial justice issues.  Books covered included The New Jim Crow, So You Want To Talk About Race?, The Color of Food, and the documentary I am not your negro.  The goal of this course is to learn how racism affects all aspects of life, including but not limited to academia, science and medicine. Participants will broaden their knowledge of racism in these fields and strengthen their ability to communicate about these topics. Ultimately, we hope that participants will leverage the skills developed in this course to improve social equity of the systems they work and live within.

Other DEI Activities our department has been involved with to reduce bias and create a more inclusive environment are:

Student Diversity

To address the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM graduate programs, an annual Diversity Preview Weekend was established in 2016. This graduate student-led initiative has aimed to close gaps in access to graduate programs for historically excluded students, including people of color, first-generation college students, and LGBTQ+ students, in the life sciences at Cornell and across the nation. In collaboration with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and School of Integrative Plant Sciences, the Department of Entomology hosts approximately 40 students each year for a two-day graduate school recruitment event providing networking opportunities, professional development workshops, campus tours, and familiarization with the graduate school application process. Additionally, this event fosters open communication among current minority students and prospective students about their experience in academia and challenges they’ve faced, as well as cultivating ongoing mentorship opportunities between current and prospective graduate students to improve their success in pursuing graduate education. 

One barrier to pursuing graduate education is a lack of transparent and accessible information on how to apply to department graduate programs. We are in the process of increasing access to relevant information and improving transparency of the process our department uses to recruit and select candidates for admission to the program. This revision will include specifying our expectations of prospective candidates, clarifying the steps and timeline that must be completed prior to admission to the department, and providing resources on how to assemble a competitive application. We hope this information will reduce barriers to successful application by all interested graduate students. 

In the application process, we have eliminated GRE scores as a component of applications that we consider. We evaluate student commitment to diversity and community, in addition to research and teaching excellence, using an explicit rubric that the admissions committee uses to evaluate submitted diversity statements. 

We are also working to improve inclusion of all graduate students in our department by surveying all department members, including students, to assess current department climate. We are using these survey results to identify ways we can improve the climate, ultimately benefiting graduate students from any demographic or background. 

Faculty Diversity

Given the need to diversify our faculty, search plans for all new positions are developed in coordination with the CALS Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and an Entomology DEI representative. The search plan  identifies multiple websites and listservs (i.e. Entomology People of ColorInternational Association of Black Entomologists; Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science [sacnas.org]) serving communities traditionally underrepresented in the sciences and will advertise the position on these listservs. The search committee is tasked to identify a contact list of potential URM applicants for targeted recruitment.  The search committee will use the University-recommended rubric to assess diversity statements of all applicants. Moreover, the committee will use a standardized set of criteria and questions to evaluate applicants in order to limit bias. All faculty, staff and students that are part of a search committee are also required to take anti-bias training and to follow the CALS D&I guidelines to avoid bias during the hiring process. 

All new faculty will have a dedicated mentoring committee and access to resources offered through CALS and also through the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity such as the opportunity to join a Colleague Network Groups (CNGs) that offers monthly lunches and events targeted to different minorities working at Cornell. 

Staff Diversity

To ensure that staff have the same access to ongoing anti-bias education as faculty and students do, we will be clarifying the expectation that these trainings can be completed during working hours for any department member, whether they have an hourly contract or salary contract. Until now:

  • All members of the administrative team have participated in the CULearn DEI courses and continue to expand their knowledge about diversity on campus.
  • Our Student Services Representative participates in all the DEI conversations taking place at the Grad School and in CALS relative to the undergraduate program. This representative works with our graduate student population and assists them when possible in their DEI efforts.
  • Our administrative assistant is a member of our Diversity committee and is working with that group to develop a DEI webpage on our website.

Improving Department Climate

Entomology  is committed to cultivating a climate where all department members from any demographic or background feel that their voices are heard and experiences are valued. In order to understand how department members feel about the current climate and identify areas to focus on for short-term and long-term improvement initiatives, we distributed a survey in Fall 2020 to gather feedback. This survey was developed with feedback from Dr. Theoria Cason, who served as Training and Education Coordinator for the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX at Cornell.  

In addition to the survey, we gather feedback from the department during at least one listening session per year and have encouraged everyone to contact DEI committee members to share feedback or concerns. We are developing a format for department members to provide anonymous feedback to the committee in the event they do not feel comfortable emailing a concern to us.

To ensure our entire department is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, we will be incorporating DEI criteria into faculty, staff, and student annual progress reviews. This will serve to place value on education, training, and other efforts to reduce bias in the department and improve department climate, as well as provide a formal manner to recognize the DEI efforts put forth by department members. 

To promote inclusion and support of historically underrepresented genders, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at Cornell AgriTech has started a monthly lunch gathering across the station among other events

Resources

Land Acknowledgement

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

This land acknowledgment has been reviewed and approved by the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' leadership. 

DEI Committee