This one-credit-hour course is intended to work in tandem with EAS 509 and 510. A monthly diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) speaker series being developed to supplement the diversity content being incorporated into EAS 509 and 510. Adding diversity content into these two core courses will help to satisfy the strong student demand for the incorporation more DEI content into the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) curriculum. However, not all first-year students take either of these core courses. Moreover, second- and third-year master’s students as well as and doctoral students will not be enrolled in these courses this fall. To provide a wider range of students with an opportunity to explore DEI issues in a classroom setting, we propose the above course, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Environment and Sustainability Practice.
The course will have two parts. First, students registered in the course will attend the four lectures in the DEI speaker series along with students registered in EAS 509 and 510, as well as with others from the SEAS community as well as the public. The lectures will be focused on leadership opportunities or challenges and DEI-related institutional changes underway in the environmental sector. The course will also examine how DEI skills are transferable to the workforce. Students in the Diversity course will also have an opportunity to meet with the speakers in small groups. Second, students in the course will meet for a 1.5-hour seminar after each speaker has delivered his/her address to have a more indepth discussion of the lecture. In addition, the course will focus on the DEI leadership skills and challenges that emerge from the speakers’ presentations. The seminars will also provide an opportunity for DEI training exercises that are relevant to issues raised by the speakers or that arise during discussions.
The speakers being invited are:
- Jorge Consuegra, Chief Diversity Officer, the Environmental Defense Fund.
- Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Co-Founder and Director of People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and the Environment (PGM-ONE).
- Michael Dorsey, Interim Director, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (SEAS alum – bachelors and Ph.D.)
- Mary Adelzadeh, Program Director, Blue Ridge-Berryessa Partnership (SEAS alum – master’s degree).
Students in the course are required to write a reflective paper that DEI leadership themes in the context of environment and sustainability. Papers might cover topics such as:
- Collaborating in diverse teams to foster productive outcomes,
- Managing conflict within diverse groups,
- Assessing performance and capabilities in an inclusive way,
- Achieving results through DEI best practices, and
- Responding to inappropriate and non-inclusive workplace behavior.
This new SEAS course will complement the offerings currently in the Rackham Professional Development Leader’s Program. The course will also help to satisfy one of the curricular strategic objectives in the SEAS five-year DEI Strategic Plan. That objective seeks to incorporate DEI content into the SEAS curriculum more broadly.
Learning Objectives and Outcomes
The course has the following objectives:
- To help students understand the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the practice of environment and sustainability.
- To develop DEI leadership skills that can be used in the context of environment and sustainability.
- To help students understand how to transfer DEI skills learned at the University of Michigan to future work and practice.
- To develop a student-based community of DEI practice in SEAS.
We expect the following outcomes from the course:
- Students will gain a greater appreciation of the challenges and opportunities that they will face when engaging with DEI issues.
- Students will be better prepared to handle situations that arise in the workplace and in practice that are related to DEI issues.
- Students will develop skills that they can use in future jobs or practice.
- The SEAS Office of Academic Programs Career Services Coaches will further support the goals of this course by providing students with ways to showcase these skills on their resumes and in interviews.