College of Arts & Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

In the past few weeks, there have been several messages circulated from our administration, and from organizations around campus, with common themes of community, the desire for hope, and the urgency for action. Like the rest of you, I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd and the many other persons of color who have lost their lives unjustly. The suffering taking place around our nation is just a snapshot of a much broader social reality. We are all part of such a reality. As such, it is of fundamental importance that we step up and take a stance against racism and discrimination. We have witnessed the impact of our silence and our attempts to rationalize unjust incidents simply compound the suffering that persons of color in our society continue to endure.

I have hope. We have the tools to enact systematic change – knowledge and education. As the largest college at New Mexico State University, we have the privilege to teach almost every first-year student. This privilege should come with a profound sense of responsibility; what we do here locally has the potential to change the world. We must endeavor to use this position of privilege to make our society more just, for everyone, combat systemic discrimination, and shape future generations.

However, we cannot evoke such change by simply feeling the injustice or expressing our righteous anger. We must channel our energy in a way that transforms our emotions and conversations into palpable actions. I have always seen the College of Arts & Sciences as one that is deeply dedicated to the study and implementation of social justice.  Let’s honor the memory of George Floyd, and so many other marginalized members of society, by engaging in work that seeks to uplift each other.

I would like to ask each one of you to assist the College by committing ongoing support and expansion of the work that our Inclusion & Diversity Fellows have been conducting over the last year, leading to:

  • the growth of existing and novel academic programs and courses, like Ethnic Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Native American Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano Studies, and Border Studies, that can help create learning opportunities and opportunities for encounter and conversation;
  • the development of opportunities for learning, conversations, and exchanges for faculty and students aimed at promoting the understanding of diversity, biases, racism, and discrimination, not only within focused degree programs on social justice but across the entire college;
  • the development of training opportunities for faculty and students focused on Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, through readings, webinars, newsletters, and workshops.
  • the development of college-wide hiring protocols to promote searches which are inclusive and promote access to diverse audiences;
  • the establishment of a permanent body within the college to guide the development, implementation and assessment of college initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through our commitment to teaching, research, service, outreach, and leadership, we have an opportunity to make a difference in our world. Let’s work together to use the power of education and knowledge to impact present and future generations.

College Initiatives

The College of Arts and Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Fellows have instituted the following initiatives over the past year:

  • the growth of existing and novel academic programs and courses, like Borderlands and Ethnic Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Native American Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano Studies, and Border Studies, that can help create learning opportunities and opportunities for encounter and conversation;
  • the development of opportunities for learning, conversations, and exchanges for faculty and students aimed at promoting the understanding of diversity, biases, racism, and discrimination, not only within focused degree programs on social justice but across the entire college;
  • the development of training opportunities for faculty and students focused on Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, through readings, webinars, newsletters, and workshops.
  • the development of college-wide hiring protocols to promote searches which are inclusive and promote access to diverse audiences;
    the establishment of a permanent body within the college to guide the development, implementation and assessment of college initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

In an effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom, the College of Arts and Sciences will be hosting a series of training workshops for our facutly and staff on various issues relating to diversity. A few topics include:

Virtual Tour of NMSU Campus and Public Micro-Aggressions
This talk thoughtfully and welcomingly guides participants through an exploration of representation in art, statues, building names, and spaces on NMSU’s campus– with key attention to the historical and contemporary oppression and exclusion of racialized peoples and women. How does our physical landscape overtly and covertly promote aggression toward marginalized groups? How do we understand our lived environment in a time of global, intersectional anti-racist and anti-misogynist uprisings? These questions are being asked all around us, and now is the time to reflect on who we are as a university community and what our role as an institution of higher education can be. This talk is presented by Dr. Dulcinea Lara, Director of Borderlands and Ethnic Studies (BEST).

Creating Community and Kind Communication
Maintaining a clear and effective line of communication between faculty and students can sometimes be challenging. This is especially true for online courses. One key to good communication is to create a classroom community. In this workshop, Dr. Herrera and Dr. Longwell discuss the importance of creating a sense of community in the face-to-face and virtual classrooms between the professor and students. Creating a community of learners allows for a more respectful and robust dialogue. Building a relationship of respect and trust is also key, which is developed through our words, tone, feedback, flexibility, and sense of empathy. Through community and relationship building we can create a learning experience that is equitable and inclusive.

Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres”: Theories and Methodologies that Center Latinx/a/o Epistemologies and Pedagogies at HSIs
Dr. Judith Carmona Flores discusses how she employs pláticas~testimonios methodology in her work with Latinx/a/o students at a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) by answering the following questions: What is my approach to the study of Latinx/a/o students and how does my work contribute to the study of Latinx/a/o students in higher education? What ethical issues do I consider that are unique to the study of Latinx/a/o students in higher education? And, what opportunities for future research does my approach present? I conclude by offering consejos (advise) on how to continue en la lucha to decolonize academia through our teaching, research, and service.

Being a Black Student at a HSI (and not always being Okay)
HSI are slowly gaining recognition as diverse institutions, places in which one, mostly minority students, may feel a sense of kinship on campus in that they see others that look like them. Dr. Henrietta Williams Pichon discusses the assumption is that one minoritized group will create lessons learned that all could benefit from is simply not the case. Simply stated, not all minoritized groups are the same; therefore, a one size fits all approach does not always work within an organization. First, one has to understand the stories of those minoritized groups within the organization and create best practices that best meet the needs of those groups. This workshop will examine the Black student experiences at a HSI and how we can learn to assess when things are not OK and what we should or should not do about it.

Department Initiatives

AFRTOC: NMSU’s ROTC program recently acquired a Gold Bar Recrutier to increase diversity recruiting for AFROTC by working closely with feeder high schools in the Las Cruces and El Paso areas, and with the NMSU and UTEP recruiting offices.


Astronomy: The Astronomy department hosts an Inclusive Astronomy. group that meets every week to discuss and work on current issues. Recently, the group has been working on a set of “story packages” connecting stories of people who are typically underrepresented in historical discussions about the field. Given recent events, we are experimenting with a weekly discussion about an article related to current issues.


Biology: The NMSU Biology department has implemented the following practices:

  • Use evidence-based practices in intro bio courses to benefit all students and reduce achievement/performance gaps between URM and non-URM students.
  • Host/co-host MARC, RISE and HHMI grants to promote student research with an emphasis on PEER/URM students.
  • Recently completed SEPA grant to work with LCPS teachers who teach a high proportion of students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences
  • Intentional invitations to BIPOC to present their science at the weekly biology seminar series
  • Many courses are including guest lectures by BIPOC/persons traditionally underrepresented in STEM and projects to address/celebrate diversity in e.g. cancer research (e.g. highlighting “countertypical” scientists and their achievements
  • Participate in best practices workshops on inclusion and diversity
  • Use evidence-based strategies to promote diversity in faculty hiring processes
  • Lead efforts to promote diversity-oriented training programs (RISE, PACR, HSI-Hub) and include individual development plans to assess student success.
  • Promote a culture of inclusion of graduate and undergraduate students in faculty research programs by increasing the percentage of student authors with publications and by including students in grant applications
  • Continue to offer a cutting-edge curriculum that prepares students for the workforce and review content to make our curriculum more inclusive and diverse (i.e., provide readings by BIPOC authors, include courses on environmental justice, etc)
  • Provide visibility to BIPOC scientists and representation to the diverse NMSU student body by hosting BIPOC scientists in the weekly Biology seminar
  • Increase enrollment and retention of PEER Biology majors and grad students each year
  • Partner with directors of diversity and equity programs and increase department presence at URM-focused and general scientific conferences
  • Leverage inclusive teaching strategies to benefit all students, particularly PEERs
  • Provide meaningful and effective mentoring to faculty throughout each stage of their academic career, with an emphasis on the pre-promotion and pre-tenure period
  • Include a land acknowledgement on our website and at departmental events
  • Provide visibility to research in diversity and inclusion in biology teaching and learning by hosting researchers with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in biology education in our weekly seminar series

  • Communication Studies: The NMSU Communication Studies department diversity and inclusion initatives:

  • The Global Citizens Project — Program that allowed high performing, but economically disadvantaged students an opportunity to travel abroad to Costa Rica. This program brought cohorts of students to Costa Rica wherein they engaged in Spanish immersion classes and worked on a sustainable coffee farm. During the trip students stay with families in Monteverde, Costa Rica. We also have lots of conversations around environmental sustainability in global contexts.
  • Fostering STEM in Las Cruces – A program in which students were provided science themed activities to children (ages 5-12) enrolled in the foster care system. The program worked with the foster children population to hopefully increase interest in science and, in turn, interest in pursuing a future education.
  • GUIDE Program—This program focuses on providing cultural adaptation programming for students enrolled in the BRIDGES program. BRIDGES is an NIH funded program that brings Native students to campus to work in research labs. One of the biggest challenges that many Native students face when arriving on campus is associated with the acculturative stress (i.e., culture shock) that arises when being away from their home communities while also adjusting to the norms of a research lab.

  • Computer Sciences:The NMSU Computer Sciences’ diversity and inclusion initatives:

  • Award ceremony (Aspirations) for high school female tech projects
  • Targeted recruiting of females to CS/NMSU programs through continued social outreach and activities.
  • Prior to COVID, Computer Science held game nights with high school females and CS undergraduate students. We have moved to virtual meetings this semester.
  • Acculturation program – Assign a YWiCer to a high school junior (target female Hispanics) partner from summer who shows talent in tech but who may not be likely to attend DACC or NMSU (i.e. first-time college student) in order to engage, challenge, and create a sense of persistence and growth mindset. There is also informal advising on navigating the CS program/NMSU for early undergrad females by YWiC students.
  • STEM Nights/Activities- Run activities (i.e. robots, Smartgrid project) at middle school and high schools to show regional students they have a place in STEM
  • Summer Camps- Summer camps with hands on experiences for females
  • Out of School Programs – After school activities for female middle and high schoolers. This includes a new program for local learning-different elementary students
  • Teacher Professional Development – Financially support science/STEM teachers at two minority schools: Mescalero Apache School and Santa Teresa High School training and conferences
  • Scholarships- Scholarship support for promising, female and Hispanic CS students. (This is temporary, as long as iCREDITS has participant funding)
  • Tutoring- YWiC CS undergrad tutoring with textbooks available for checkout to students.
  • YWiC- Aside from various outreach activities, YWiC is also an informal student advisory group
  • Conferences/Internships/Scholarship Assistance- YWiC serves to increase the number of females attending Grace Hopper and Tapia conferences and securing internships and scholarships though application assistance and networking with alums.
  • Verizon Innovative Learning Program (serves 100 middle school students)
  • S-STEM Scholarship (currently benefiting ~50 students)
  • Verizon foundation for a $50,000 grant to purchase laptops and wi-fi extenders for Columbus schools
  • Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI INCLUDES)-ecosystem that cultivates and empowers Hispanics in computing
  • Peer-Led Team-Learning (PLTL)-provides an active learning experience for students and creates leadership opportunities for undergraduates
  • Google Problem Solving Courses- build students’ knowledge in problem solving, prepares students for technical interviews
  • Lighthouse course- Professional development for faculty and staff that provides strategies, pedagogy, and resources for recruiting and retaining diverse students in computer science courses
  • CS Adventures- summer program for high school students to provide opportunities for underrepresented students to explore computational thinking, computer science, and programming
  • CAHSI club- student led club that creates inclusive community within the department by hosting events and activities with students, faculty, staff, community leaders, and alumni
  • Conference support for student to attend national conferences including Great Minds in STEM (GMiS), Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), and the Richard Tapia Conference of Diversity in Computing. At these conference students can attend technical workshops that build on their skills and participate in career fairs, where many receive internship or job offers.
  • NCWiT Extension Services program- From Jan 2018-Dec 2019, the NMSU Computer Science Department worked with the National Center for Women and Information Technology to make systematic change that will focus on making inclusion central to the departmental culture.

  • Criminal Justice: NMSU Department of Criminal Justice Statement of Solidarity.


    English: The NMSU English department has implemented the following practices:

  • Revamped our faculty hiring process, e.g. to allow us to develop more thoughtful job ads that would reflect our commitment to diversity/inclusion and recruit a more diverse applicant pool; three of our past four hires have been people of color, and five of our past six have been people of color and/or LGBTQ+.
  • We offer general education writing courses for international/mutilingual students, including a section of ENGL 1110G for CAMP students, and are developing sections of 2210G for multilingual students.
  • Our literary magazine, Puerto del Sol, runs blogs for Black and Latinx writers, hosts a reading for authors from “Shithole Countries” at AWP each year, and recently published an issue of poetry translated from Korean.
  • Our literary reading series partners regularly with Southwest and Border Cultures Institute to present writers that represent the diversity of our region.
  • Dr. Brandon Hobson, a facutly member in CW/Fiction, does substantial outreach to Native American communities.

  • Geography: NMSU Department of Geography Statement on Social Justice.


    Geological Sciences Diverstiy Statement:Everyone should have the opportunity to reach their goals, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, creed, religion, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identify or expression, disability, veteran status, marital status, medical condition, pregnancy, education, class, political affiliation, or parental status. A career in the geosciences is a great path to social mobility and we welcome students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds. We will make every effort for our department, our courses and our activities, to be open to all. In addition, the Geological Sciences department:

  • Organizing diversity sensitivity training for our faculty with LGTBQ+ Programs, Chicano Programs, and Black Programs. These will happen next semester, virtually.
  • Actively recruiting graduate students at HIS universities to increase diversity in our graduate program. The department is in the process of applying to the American Geophysical Union’s Bridge Program. If accepted, the department will have access to URM students who apply to the Bridge program to find supportive graduate schools.
  • Eliminated the GRE as a requirement for application to our graduate program

    Governement“Statement Denouncing Police Brutality and in Support of Protesters”


    Interdisciplinary Studies: The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies has created a webpage entitled “In Solidarity” to show their support and commitment to social justice. In addition, the department hosted “Pandemic Pop Up! A Virtual Film Fest & Culture Work Exhibit” with work providing different aspects of the world before and the early days of pandemic realities, with special emphasis on the vitality of overlapping cultures and communities and cultural practices.


    Hisory:

  • History 361 and 362 have been redesigned the Africana Studies minor.
  • History 461 has been redesigned to focus on race/ethnicity issues in Europe
  • Dr. García-Bryce and M.A. student Roberto Torres participating on a University committee that is writing didactics for murals at the university that depict New Mexico history, to present them to the public in a way that affirms the university’s commitment to diversity.



    Interdisciplinary Studies:Throughout the year, the Interdisciplinary Studies department hosts social justice events, largely focused on diversity & inclusion, such as:
    (a) Feminist Border Arts Film Festival, celebrating the power of cinema as a tool to reflect on social issues and thought-provoking representations of identity and difference.

    (b) Transnational Solidarity Day promotes a day of solidarity focusing on harsh truths of living in a border city with an eye to effecting positive change.

    (c) Social Justice Zine is an annual zine produced each spring that features essays, personal narratives, poetry, interviews, photography, comics, and art that explores issues of identity and differences from intersectional and transnational perspectives. The zine is dedicated to social justice issues, decolonizing strategies, queer and LGBT+ perspectives, dis/ability approaches, migration, the environment, and feminism.


    Sociology: NMSU Department of Sociology Statement of Solidarity.



    Theatre Arts: NMSU Department of Theatre Arts Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.


    Universtiy Art Museum: In 2016 we prepared new missions for both the University Art Museum (UAM) and the NMSU Permanent Art Collection that pledge to diversify our programming and collections by exhibiting and collecting significant works by leading African American, female, LGBTQ and other underrepresented and marginalized artists. Committing ourselves to this mission in 2020, with the opening of the new UAM in Devasthali hall, the museum has taken action by producing carefully and thoughtfully planned exhibitions that highlight important social events taking place worldwide. Starting with our current curated exhibition, Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020, the UAM has provided a platform to artist mothers, which is historically an underrepresented and undervalued section of the art world. COVID-altered Labor programming, now all online, is targeted towards our local, regional and national communities and mothers and children. With this first exhibition, and with all programming going forward, the UAM asserts ourselves as a hub for creativity, collaboration, acceptance and a safe space that welcomes all members of our on-campus and off-campus community to come together to mourn, relearn, hear and understand how we will attain social justice and reform through thoughtful interaction with art and artists. A message of solidarity from the UAM.

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