EPS Anti-Racism Action Committee

The UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences Anti-Racism Action Committee (ARAC) commits to the practice of anti-racism by continuously seeking to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community through the evaluation and improvement of department practices that contribute to racist outcomes. The department’s efforts promote the recruitment, retention, and personal and professional success of geoscientists from underrepresented minoritized groups, including BIPOC, at all career stages.

The Anti-Racism Action Committee is charged with proposing actions to curtail institutional racism that arises out of department structures, curriculum, and culture. Our overarching process is to:

  1. Identify structures and practices that contribute to racism in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
  2. Research documented solutions to racist outcomes in academic departments.
  3. Propose changes to the EPS Chair for implementation in the Department.  
  4. Facilitate the implementation of recommended changes.
  5. Share our outcomes with other departments and interested people.

The ARAC was established in June 2020, with broad participation from undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, academic professionals, and faculty. The committee has established standards for the content of recommendations, including referenced documentation of how and why proposed changes are expected to reduce structural racism. While the main focus of the committee is on making specific recommendations, individual members are also using the discussions to address other issues, such as increasing transparency for departmental processes and soliciting ideas and feedback from community members. Community members are also assisting in some of the efforts.

The status of ARAC's ongoing work is indicated below as:

  • In-progress - ARAC is currently working to prepare one or more proposals
  • Completed - ARAC has voted on and approved a proposal
  • Adopted - The EPS faculty has taken action on the proposal

Comments to the ARAC
Ideas, feedback, comments and/or resources are welcomed by the UC Davis EPS Anti-Racism Action Committee (ARAC).

  • ARAC Feedback Form. Contributions can be anonymous or you can include your name. Everything input here will go to Dawn Sumner as the chair of the ARAC. She will distribute the information to the rest of the committee as appropriate. Note that information provided here should not be considered confidential. If you wish to provide feedback on how Dawn is doing, you can contact the chair of the department.
  • eps-arac-feedback@ucdavis.edu. Feedback may also be submitted via email.

Curriculum and Grading Practices

Field curriculum; lack of representation in courses; normative grading

Recommendations:

  • Syllabus additions to promote mental health | Implemented
    Background: The proposed change is to create a document listing all mental health resources available to students at UC Davis that will be adopted by the department and included in all EPS syllabi. This change is one step in a series to increase the mental well-being and sense of belonging for Black students, Indigenous students, and students of color within EPS.
  • Navigating mental health resources | Implemented
    Background: The proposed change is to normalize help-seeking behavior by offering yearly workshops from the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services.
  • Equitable grading practices for EPS students | In-progress
    Background:
    The practice of assigning letter grades using a ‘curve’ creates a competitive environment in which students are motivated to compete against one another for a limited number of top grades. Curved grading has been recognized as a practice that drives many talented students away from STEM disciplines.
  • Assessing the impacts of curricular change on EPS undergraduates | In-progress

Power and Harassment

Microaggressions; accountability; financial dependence on advisor

Financial Challenges

Field camp costs; hidden grad fees; summer funding; gear costs; tuition

Recruiting

Exclusive nature of network connections

Mentoring

Recommendations:

  • Writing a Faculty Advising Philosophy | Implemented
    Background: An advising philosophy is a document that lays out an advisor’s style, values, and practice of advising. The process of writing an advising philosophy helps the advisor explore their own practice, and the final product helps communicate this important information and expectations to advisees.
  • Navigating mental health resources | Completed
    Background:
    The proposed change is to normalize help-seeking behavior by offering yearly workshops from the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services.
  • Recommendation for Promoting Equitable Mentoring | Completed
    Background: Developing an anti-racist mentoring culture is a critical step towards improving the recruitment, retention, well-being and success of BIPOC scientists. Specific recommended actions include: (1) adopting anti-racist mentoring guidelines and approaches, (2) implementing professional development opportunities for mentors focused on inclusive and equitable mentorship, and (3) providing transparency in and accountability of mentoring outcomes.
  • Guidelines Mentoring Contracts for Graduate Students and Postdocs | In-progress
  • Improved mentoring for postdocs | In-progress
  • Promotion of mental health | In-progress

Cultural Climate

Sense of belonging; Image of ‘geologist’; department events

Recommendations:

  • Change the name of the ‘Brown Bag’ seminar | Implemented
    Background:
    Use the term Lunch Seminar to refer to the Friday lunchtime seminars instead of the name 'Brown Bag'. Replace this term where it appears on the website, in emails, and in discussion.
  • Syllabus additions to promote mental health | Completed
    Background: The proposed change is to create a document listing all mental
    health resources available to students at UC Davis that will be adopted by the department and included in all EPS syllabi. This change is one step in a series to increase the mental well-being and sense of belonging for Black students, Indigenous students, and students of color within EPS.
  • Faculty and Instructor role in belonging | In-progress
  • Department’s role in fostering a sense of belonging | In-progress

Departmental Structural Changes

EPS Email policies | Completed
A new email list was established to promote discussion of difficult issues so that these discussions do not occur on lists that department members are obliged to join.

  • New policies were developed to explicitly define how required list-serves can be used by community members.
  • A process for removing email posting privileges was established.

Department Seminar Changes
EPS seminar organizers now:

  • Invite all speakers to include diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism content in their seminars
  • Provide a small honorarium to speakers (except for people at UC, which is not allowed)
  • Identify and invite a broader diversity of speakers

Transparency in Hiring Practices
Annual seminars are now offered on:

  • Faculty Hiring Process at UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Graduate Student Admissions Process at UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences

Additional Resources