In Support of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Injustices and systemic prejudice pervade the environmental and conservation movements, which have been shaped by a history of exclusion, colonialism, and privilege. The reality is that these movements have uprooted native peoples from their lands, marginalized environmental concerns of the underprivileged, and chronically excluded non-normative people along the lines of class, race, gender, orientations, ethnicities, and cultures. This history of injustice and exclusion are deeply embedded in the social and educational systems in the United States and hinder the environmental movement and its efforts to include people of all colors, ethnicities, backgrounds, orientations, and identities. 

We as workers engaged in social and ecological reform are only beginning to come to terms with these injustices and resulting inequity. We know that progress necessitates having difficult conversations with ourselves about diversity, privilege, and inclusion. Addressing these challenges personally, locally, nationally, and globally will require new solutions and new collaborations across diverse social contexts, driven by authentic and enduring commitments to pluralism and social justice. Part of the solution, we believe, lies in educational practices that are more deeply rooted in communities and more committed to genuine dialogue and participation. We find hope in new approaches that bring people together to advance a just and sustainable future.

Below are some of the steps we’ve taken and will continue. We welcome further ideas and have included contact emails below.

Fundamentals. Project Dragonfly is resolved and engaged in dismantling the structures and forces of exclusion and oppression, particularly in our education systems and in the environmental and conservation movements. Every week, we are inspired by Dragonfly students, alums, instructors, and partners who engage deeply in communities, expand boundaries by interacting with diverse stakeholders, and work to ensure the types of inclusive spaces needed for civic participation and progress. To support these transformative interactions, our degree programs are uniquely designed from the ground up to be co-delivered with pathbreaking community institutions, non-profits, and conservation organizations united in common cause to support community-engaged learning and shared action. Curricular elements specifically support this mission at the graduate level, including foundational courses in social and ecological inquiry, Community Engagement Labs, Inquiry Action Projects, community and authorship Leadership Challenges, and engaged Master Plans. We believe participatory learning, particularly when focused on community solutions, is an essential building block for inclusive and just educational systems. In this context, the broader reform goal is not only to bring new voices to the table, but to collaboratively redesign the table itself.

Student Recruitment. Since the inception of its master’s degrees in 2009, Project Dragonfly has implemented policies directly focused on reaching students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Beginning in 2018, Dragonfly additionally connected with state and regional organizations for bilingual education, more than 100 colleges and universities notable for their high minority enrollment, and many additional organizations that have underrepresented minorities as members. In 2017, 14.2 percent of the students admitted to Dragonfly master’s programs identified as African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. In 2020, that percentage had increased to 21.4 percent.  Most of our admitted students identify as female, consistent with trends of women in the life sciences and education fields.

Students, Staff, Curriculum, and Program. Current instructors and full-time staff complete Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training, and staff members continue to seek additional DEI training. A student-led cooperative of Project Dragonfly students, alumni, staff, and affiliates formed and is committed to diversity and inclusion both within the program itself and in the greater conservation and education fields. We inaugurated Dragonfly Diversity Cafes to showcase inspirational experiences and perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion-related topics in environmental and conservation settings. In accordance with Miami’s Strategic Diversity Plan, Dragonfly continues to investigate how to further integrate DEI ideas into its curriculum. We recently identified new curricular opportunities to integrate DEI-related topics in our core courses, and we update curricular materials regularly to engage historical and contemporary issues in social and environmental justice. Dragonfly programs also continue to benefit from the invaluable ideas, perspectives, learning approaches, and curricular innovations introduced by the community institutions across the U.S. and global partner network.

Suggested Resources and Articles, Miami University

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources for Dragonfly Students (requires login)

Additional Resources

If you are interested in or have ideas to support Dragonfly’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives, please contact a Dragonfly adviser at Miami University:
–Jamie Bercaw Anzano at bercawj@miamioh.edu
–Katie Feilen at feilenkl@miamioh.edu

–Jill Korach at korachjk@miamioh.edu
–Kevin Matteson at matteskc@miamioh.edu