The RC Lab Diversity Statement*
*Disclaimer: this is a living document that is updated as necessary
As a lab and an academic community, we recognize that institutionalized discrimination -- based on race, gender, disability, age, and socioeconomic status, among other attributes -- persists in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. While our statement was motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement, we acknowledge the multiple forms of discrimination and our statement aims to be comprehensive. The RC Lab acknowledges the barriers to success faced by historically underrepresented groups and the inherent value of diversity. We are committed to breaking down these barriers and fostering diversity within all avenues of our work. To this end, we have crafted our own goals on inclusion, core values, and anti-racism. We also recognize the need to assess our success in accomplishing the commitments described below and are working on approaches and metrics to evaluate our performance. This statement serves as a living document.
In the RC Lab, we foster diversity, equity and inclusion:
In the RC Lab Group
We cultivate an environment where lab members feel safe sharing their needs, asking for help, and working collaboratively. To make sure our lab is both a safe community and a safe physical space:
We honor a diversity of thought and all identities.
We respectfully address concerns whether they are voiced in the moment or upon reflection at a later date.
We invite UCSC Equal Employment & Opportunity and other DEI experts to speak to the lab yearly to remind members of their rights and responsibilities, and to share the formal and informal options available to those with concerns.
We commit to regularly discussing our norms, progress, and re-commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage everyone to participate in shaping the lab environment and policies, and create opportunities for feedback to PIs.
We dedicate one lab meeting quarterly to DEI discussions, commitments, and opportunities for improvement, including revisiting this diversity statement.
We actively encourage underrepresented youth and undergraduates to be a part of our research and commit to serving as mentors for those seeking careers in science.
We currently encourage our undergraduates to participate in the CAMINO, STEM Diversity, and Doris Duke Conservation Scholars programs, as well as the high school Science Internship program, and seek out funding opportunities for fellowships, grants, and programs that are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We work with local schools to encourage participation by minority and underrepresented youth in RC lab research.
We also encourage recruitment of underrepresented minorities in all capacities to the RC lab
In the Field
We encourage research practices that address equity, consider the socio-ecological context of our work and its impacts on diverse communities.
We adhere to UCSC anti-discriminatory practices throughout field prep, courses, and research.
We commit to providing equitable opportunities for students, researchers, and field staff and adhere to UC recruitment policies and practices that ensure this.
We promote participation in field courses by all individuals, as these courses retain many and more diverse students (Beltran et al. 2020, Zavaleta et. al 2020).
We promote open and engaging field research, where all individuals may learn from one another, feel confident in participating, and understand that their concerns are valued.
We encourage and incorporate feedback from individuals we work with and outside observers.
We stress to all field participants that questions are appreciated, encouraged, and will be met with thoughtful responses.
We commit to decolonizing field practices by respectfully engaging with stakeholders of the land where research is planned.
For example, members of our lab have sought permission to conduct research in traditional territories managed by Tlingit and Haida people since time immemorial. We acknowledge the unceded territory where we conduct research and throughout the process of researching cultural resources, we involve tribal citizens and governments to identify additional questions and co-develop a research plan.
We respect the multiple knowledge sources communities maintain, including Local and Indigenous Knowledge. We recognize these sources each have integrity and contribute to a more comprehensive view of ecosystem changes and species interactions.
For example, in Southeast Alaska we recognize distinct tribal governments with their own knowledge, management, and understanding of local resources.
In the Classroom
We commit to anti-discriminatory teaching by implementing inclusive and equitable teaching practices, and foster inclusive, welcoming class climates.
For example, all of the Teaching Assistants (TAs) in our lab have participated in the Teaching as an Ethical Practice course through UCSC, with many taking additional pedagogy- and inclusivity-themed courses such as Pedagogy for Graduates and the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program.
We make clear our expectations not only for student performance, but also our expectations for respectful student engagement.
We encourage students to adopt growth-mindsets; no student is “born bad at” a subject. Instead, we foster the idea that every skill can be learned and improved over time, regardless of previous ability.
We design class activities with multiple pathways for learning and provide varied forms of assessment.
We ensure that all students have equitable access to course content and learning.
We prioritize field observation opportunities that are local (e.g. on the UCSC Natural Reserve) or provide van access for field trips.
In the Community as a whole:
Our lab members will regularly engage in outreach with our local community to communicate the science we are conducting.
We are aligning our efforts with those of the broader EEB and general academic community aimed toward increasing diversity, equity and inclusion and correcting systems of exclusion.
Beltran, R. S., Marnocha, E., Race, A., Croll, D. A., Dayton, G. H., & Zavaleta, E. S. (2020). Field courses narrow demographic achievement gaps in ecology and evolutionary biology. Ecology and Evolution, 10(12), 5184-5196.
Zavaleta, Erika S., Roxanne S. Beltran, and Abraham L. Borker. 2020. How Field Courses Propel Inclusion and Collective Excellence. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 35(11): 953-956.