Higher education institutions should work to change their organizational cultures to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within science and technology fields, rather than focusing only on increasing the number of people from racial and ethnic minority groups within their ranks, according to a February report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).

Washington University in St. Louis is partnering with NASEM in its efforts to stimulate cultural change and support inclusive excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) and is hosting a day of related activities May 3 on the Danforth Campus.

NASEM report
The NASEM consensus study report was published in February 2023.

The university will welcome Layne Scherer, senior program officer at NASEM and study director, and two individuals who served on the committee that developed the report: Karl W. Reid, senior vice provost and chief inclusion officer of Northeastern University, and Kecia M. Thomas, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. (View an interactive overview of the report findings).

“These representatives from the National Academies are coming to WashU to connect with key stakeholders who have the position to advance the key findings, conclusions and recommendations in their organizations,” said Kurt Thoroughman, an associate professor at the McKelvey School of Engineering and a faculty fellow in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, who is co-organizing the event with Jennifer Heemstra, the Charles Allen Thomas Professor and chair of chemistry in Arts & Sciences.

“The National Academies knows that many campuses have longstanding commitments to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion in STEMM, and they hope to learn more about efforts happening on the ground to advance these values,” he said.

Washington University presenters for the May 3 event include Jennifer Smith, vice provost for educational initiatives, and Kia Caldwell, vice provost for faculty affairs and diversity, as well as other faculty and students.

Washington University community members are invited to participate in public discussions hosted in Whitaker Hall on the Danforth Campus. The reception will include a recognition and celebration of the approximately 50 elected members of the National Academies who are on the faculty:

9-10:30 a.m.: NASEM and Washington University panels (Whitaker Hall, Room 100)
3:30-4:15 p.m.: Discussion on shared goals, research and collaborations (Whitaker Hall, Room 100)
4:30-5:30 p.m.: Reception (Whitaker Hall atrium)

The sessions are open to the WashU community, but registration is required.

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