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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

DEI Journal Club

The Department of Physics and Astronomy strives to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for its faculty, staff, and students. This page describes the principles the department seeks to advance, gives resources for department members, and describes activities carried out in the department.

To contact the department about anything related to diversity, equity, and inclusivity, please email us at physicsDEI@mail.wvu.edu.

Principles

The following are definitions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity embraced by the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy (from IndependentSector.org):

Diversity : all the ways in which people differ; often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, but also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. Perhaps also: diversity of thought: ideas, perspectives, and values.

Equity : fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

Inclusion : act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It’s important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Increasingly, recognition of unconscious or ‘implicit bias’ helps organizations to be deliberate about addressing issues of inclusivity.

The department seeks to carry out its educational, research, and service missions in support of the WVU land-grant mission in a manner consistent with the goals of fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in all aspects of department life.

What do I need to know if I have a DEI/Title IX concern or issue?

  • Most importantly, help is available to you.  After reading this section, please see the section below for a number of options for obtaining help.
  • If you would like to talk to someone about your concern or issue, note that everyone in the department is a “mandatory reporter.”  This means that if anyone sees or comes to know about something that is a violation of the university’s Title IX policy, that person is required to file a report with the WVU Title IX office. 

    • This means that if your issue is about a Title IX violation and you talk to someone about it, they are required to file a report. If this is not something you want, you have options.
      • There are people to talk to outside the department that are not mandatory reporters (see the next section). 
      • You can talk to someone in the department knowing they have to file a report. Once the report is filed, you can choose to pursue an investigation or not – you are not required to pursue a Title IX investigation just because a report is filed.

Who do I talk to or what can I do if I have a DEI/Title IX concern or issue?

  • If your concern or issue is about a violation of Title IX policies, you can File a Title IX Report

  • You can talk to people in the department (note, everyone in the department is a “mandatory reporter”; see previous section):
    • A trusted friend or colleague
    • Your adviser/supervisor/instructor/TA
    • The department chair
    • Anyone on the DEI committee

Test Accommodations

There are accommodations available to students for test taking. Services that Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) (304-293-6700, Room B20 in Stewart Hall, access2@mail.wvu.edu) can provide include:

  • Getting a separate room for exams (to free you from distractions of others)
  • Periodic breaks during exams
  • Extra time (usually time and a half)
  • An earlier exam time (in the morning instead of in the afternoon, pending availability of proctors)

To obtain these accommodations, you must have a proper documentation for a disability (anxiety, panic attacks, etc.) from a professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, family doctor, etc.). To apply for accommodations, go to the OAS academic website, complete the online application, submit the proper documentation, and meet with OAS to discuss your accommodations. 

WVU Programs

The following are programs through WVU that may be relevant to members of the department:

Department Activities

The following activities within the department are carried out in support of diversity, equity, and inclusivity:

  1. The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy is an American Physical Society Bridge Program Member Institution

  2. The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy is a member of the APS-IDEA Network

  3. The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a “Women in Physics” Listserv

  4. The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a monthly “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity” journal club; details follow

  5. The WVU Physics Education Research (PER) faculty are members of the NSF INCLUDES Alliance First 2 Network and conduct research on diversity in STEM. See also:

    1. John Stewart’s research
    2. Kathryn Williamson’s page with articles on blind and deaf learners
  6. Hosts planetarium shows for Black History Month and WVU’s Diversity Week centered around the book/movie Hidden Figures . (This true story of African American scientists making crucial contributions to NASA missions has an interesting connection to WVU – Katherine Johnson helped break the color barrier as a student at WVU and Dorothy Vaughn went to elementary school at a building across from WVU.) 


  7. There is a departmental leave policy for students (the “alternate workload plan”) linked here.

  8. The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy has a standing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity” committee. Responsibilities and activities include:

    1. Organizes Safe Zone training (nearly 1/4 of department faculty are Safe Zone trained)
    2. Sends monthly emails to the department about DEI and liaises with departmental committees
    3. Organizes annual departmental Title IX trainings
    4. Carries out an annual department climate survey (see below for details)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Journal Club

The DEI Journal Club was started in January 2019 by two faculty and a graduate student Diversity Ambassador. Anyone from the department can volunteer to choose an article and lead discussion. The journal club strives to provide a platform for regularly discussing DEI ideas and issues and keeping up to date on the relevant literature.

Dates of DEI Journal Club meetings and the journal articles discussed are:

Jan 30th, 2019

White Hall G51

Kathryn, Amber, Ned

"Inclusive Conversations" by Elizabeth H. Simmons (2015), article from Inside Higher Ed

February 27th

White Hall G51

Kathryn, Amber, Ned

"Towards Meaningful Physics Recognition: What does this recognition actually look like?" by Zahra Hazari & Cheryl Cass (2018), publication in The Physics Teacher, 56(7), 442.

Mon, March 25th

White Hall 105

Belinda, Amber

"How White People Handle Diversity Training in the Workplace," by Robin DiAngelo, article posted to Medium (2018) from "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" book

April, 24th

White Hall 105

Rodney

"Supporting Student Veteran Transition to College and Academic Success," by Michael J. Kirchner (2015), article in Adult Learning , 26(3), 116-123.

May

White Hall G04

Andrew Kaiser

"Sexual harassment reported by undergraduate female physicists," by Lauren M. Aycock et al. in Physical Review Special Topics Physics Education Resarch (2019), 15, 010121.

August 28th, 2019

White Hall 105

Kathryn

"First-Generation College Students: Characteristics, Experiences, and Cognitive Development," by Patrick T. Terenzini et al. (1996), article in Research in Higher Education, 37(1).

September 25th, 2019

White Hall 105

DEI Committee

Debrief of Departmental Climate Report

Department Climate Survey

The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is charged with carrying out an annual departmental climate survey. The purpose of the survey is to obtain longitudinal data to assess the culture in the department and obtain information to enact effective policies to improve DEI in the department. The first survey was done in Spring of 2019. Reports from the climate surveys are linked here: