The Biology Department is committed to equity and inclusion in our teaching, advising, mentoring and scholarship. All students are welcome members of our courses, our offices, our research labs, and Biology Majors have a home in our department. We strive to give every student who enters our introductory courses the tools, resources, and support needed to thrive, and we want every student to see themselves as potential majors in our department. We recognize the structural and systemic issues related to the ability for minoritized and other under-represented groups to thrive and graduate from STEM fields and are working toward changes in our curriculum and department to increase the ability for them to be successful in Biology. We are dedicated to fostering the same ability to flourish in all our advanced courses and our Senior Honors program. Biology at Amherst further recognizes and is committed to essential anti-racism work within our classrooms and labs and in the continued development of our department.
The following are examples of steps that we've made towards this goal:
- We regularly provide a BioNews Newlsetter focused on building Biology community and showcasing accomplishments of all our Biology family (students, staff, and faculty).
- We added an Equity & Inclusion course requirement to our major for the class of '23 and beyond for science-related courses dedicated to structural and systemic issues of equity and inclusion to count towards the major.
- We have updated our Learning Goals to reflect that graduates from Amherst College with a B.A. in Biology should have a cultural understanding of the barriers to access and inclusion that exists within STEM fields for marginalized individuals and also knowledge of the methods and tools needed to bring about needed change.
- A great source of energy and inspiration has been the new summer research Incubator Program that was just launched in the summer of 2020 by Professors Edwards (Biology), Durr (Chemistry), and Bailey (Math & Statistics), with the aim of providing a pipeline for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) STEM students to smoothly transition from first-year STEM courses to the advanced curriculum, and ultimately to stay in STEM as majors and as members of the STEM research community. Several biology faculty members including Profs Emerson, Clotfelter and Goutte, contributed to the program.
- We play an active role in the annual Summer Science program--which is now part of the Summer Bridge Program--providing incoming first-year students an opportunity to learn about research at Amherst and navigating the transition from high school to college approaches to math and science.
- We have rededicated efforts to incorporate specific inclusive practices from suggestions in the HSTEM handbook, in our intro courses.
- The majority of us enrolled in the 2020 Summer ACUE and 2U Programs offered through the Center for Teaching and Learning to aid and improve our inclusive pedagogy skills for remote teaching and learning.
- We are dedicated to presenting more about BIPOC biologists and their work in our introductory courses, and we will seek opportunities for this throughout our curriculum (and we welcome student recommendations and contributions on this effort!). Both our introductory courses feature stories and seminars by under-represented scientists that includes their history and career paths.
- We have added Being Human in STEM ("HSTEM" BIOL-250) to our course offerings (see above for our new equity and inclusion requirement).
- We are committed to inviting outside seminar speakers that represent the broad diversity of scientists in our world. We are also working to have students take part in the selection, invitation, and hosting of speakers.
- We continue to draw from the resources produced by HSTEM workshops and the HSTEM website.
Our work has been guided from within and by important help from Biology alumni and HSTEM students, including a valued letter to our department that shared a list of action items in the summer of 2020. We are committed to working towards these goals and to continuing collaborative work to the betterment of all involved with Biology at Amherst.
We also support and are dedicated to the goals and actions of the Amherst Anti-Racist Plan as outlined by President Martin on August 3rd, 2020