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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

In July, 2020, members of the UW-AOS graduate student association shared a letter to our department expressing concerns on and providing recommendations to address challenges we face in being a department that is inclusive and equitable of everyone. The letter from students asks us as a department to acknowledge and address systemic injustices that harm the potential and well-being of many of us and our respective identities. We appreciate the students for taking the initiative for drafting and sharing this letter.

In the intervening time, faculty and staff have reflected, deliberated, and pressed ahead with anti-racist and anti-sexist action in a number of ways. Our department’s recently formed diversity, inclusion, and equity committee spearheaded an effort to draft a response letter.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison recognizes that

“Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW–Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.”

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences shares this University view and is committed to the establishment of programs, framed in an anti-racism context, that provide access to, and ultimately success in, the study of atmospheric and oceanic sciences for students in groups that are underrepresented in STEM. Our Department will actively challenge and change policies that perpetuate non-inclusive practices and actions. We commit ourselves to work to effect similar changes at the University and within our academic communities.

To this end, the department has done the following:

  1. Launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
  2. Participation in the “Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences” initiative and in the UW–Madison Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI)
  3. The AOS Department was the first in the physical sciences to require contribution to diversity statements as a part of the faculty recruitment process.
  4. Amplified minoritized voices in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences by increasing their participation in departmental seminars and colloquia.
  5. We have removed the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as a required part of a complete graduate application.
  6. Revised the Department Webpage to include links to wellness, professional development, outreach and reporting misconduct; and an ‘opportunity tab’ with links to scholarship, fellowship, and internship opportunities.
  7. The Department will lead state-wide/Midwest focused outreach to rural and urban middle/high schools to increase the enrollment of underrepresented communities in our undergraduate program.
  8. Participated in the University’s Advanced Opportunity Fellowship to increase underrepresented student enrollment within our program.

    Ongoing goals for the department include:

    -Increase the diversity of the student and faculty populations.
    -Begin doing regular climate survey of the department.
    -Begin a summer internship program that emphasizes participation of underrepresented groups.