ABLE Alliance: Recognizing Academic Achievements
One of the key tenets of the ABLE Alliance is to promote the diversity and inclusion of the disabled population at Georgia Tech in academic settings. In order to expand on academic resources, we are advocating for better inclusion criteria for students with disabilities in earning institutional scholastic designations (e.g., Dean’s List). More specifically, we are advocating for special medical exemptions to minimum credit hour mandates that inadvertently discriminate against students who may not be able to consistently meet those physical demands. Additionally, the establishment of a representative honor society is being explored such that students with disabilities will be recognized for their individual academic achievements on a semesterly basis.
ABLE & ADAPPT Mentoring Program
The ABLE Alliance at Georgia Tech partnered with Georgia Power's ADAPPT Disability Employee Resource Group to create the ABLE & ADAPPT Mentoring Program. The program pairs Georgia Tech students with disabilities up with mentors from Georgia Power's ADAPPT Disability Employee Resource Group. Mentors coach each mentee to help them reach their career and professional development goals. The program launched in January 2021. Data is currently being collected to help decide how to best grow and develop the program in future semesters.
Black Media Studies at Georgia Tech
Black Media Studies (BMS) is a new program housed in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication that explores how media platforms create, market, curate, quantify, and preserve messages and representations of people of color through culture-producing industries such as music, film, television, gaming, and social media. BMS interrogates these representations, assessing and archiving their sociocultural and geopolitical influences on culture and society. As a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, my goal has been to amplify the work of BMS here at Tech.
During this fellowship year, I have worked with my BMS colleagues (Andre Brock, John Thornton, and Joycelyn Wilson) on proposing an undergraduate minor and hosting a speakers’ series. The minor proposal is currently under review at the Institute level. During the spring of 2021, we hosted Yaba Blay—a scholar, thought leader, and cultural producer whose work and practice centers on the lived experiences of Black women and girls, with a particular focus on identity politics and beauty practices. We will also host acclaimed graphic novelist Tim Fielder, who will present on his Afrofuturist work Infinitum. Finally, we are opening the Black Media Studies Center, which will be housed in the Skiles and will host small events and labs for BMS faculty and students starting in the fall of 2021.
Campus Mural Project
In collaboration with Fabian Williams (AKA Occasional Superstar)
This project aims to bridge the GT community to its surrounding city by bringing an integral piece Atlanta culture onto our campus. Murals are all around the city, celebrating and extenuating the vibrancy of Atlanta. The campus mural will similarly celebrate the diversity of our student community while beautifying campus. We have gathered input from students across campus to best represent student interests and have worked with a local artist, Fabian Williams, to bring those ideas to light and color. The project is set to be completed by the end of spring semester.
Fattening Higher Ed: An Introduction to Fat Activism
In partnership with the Women’s Resource Center and Body Positive GT
Weight-based discrimination and anti-fatness often show up in systemic and individual barriers to educational access, participation, and professional success for students, faculty, and staff in higher education. Fat activism offers us an opportunity to examine and disrupt anti-fatness in ourselves and in our higher education spaces, relationships, policies, practices, pedagogies, and culture.
This introductory workshop seeks to better equip higher education professionals with the tools to identify and address anti-fatness and practice fat activism in their departments, professional relationships, and educational spaces. The workshop begins with an overview of the historical roots of anti-fatness grounded at the intersections of race, class, and gender. Using this framework, participants learn about the lived experiences of fat people and explore the nuances of marginalization that fat people face in academia and beyond. Participants then identify practical applications of fat activism to challenge anti-fatness and create affirming, liberatory communities and spaces for fat people in higher education.
Digital Literacy Skills for Everyone Initiative
The United States is considered one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. This does not mean every person in America is equally equipped with the proper digital literacy skills to comfortably live in it. In fact, the United States faces what some education researchers called a second-level digital divide (Swain & Person, 2001). The first-level digital divide refers to the discrepancies in access to information and communications technologies (ICTs), while differences in the effective use of ICTs belong to the second-level digital divide (Attewell, 2001).
As a result, my team and I developed an entire digital literacy course in both English and Spanish. Moving forward, a goal is to identify more local and international organizations that will benefit from our course. In addition, I would also like to offer free and remote bilingual (English/Spanish) digital literacy classes at these organizations: Digital Literacy Fundamentals Course and Curso Básico de Alfabetización Digital.
First Generation Faculty Initiative
Devesh Ranjan, Chris Rozell, and Brandy Simula
Seeing people “like them” in career paths of interest plays a critical role in students’ perceptions of whether specific career fields are available to them. Because first generation status is a “hidden” identity, students are often unaware of faculty who share their first gen identities. To help make visible the successes of first generation students who have gone on to faculty careers, the First Generation Faculty at Tech initiative created an online directory of Tech’s first generation faculty and First at Tech door cards for faculty to display in their offices to make our First Gen faculty more visible. Working with partners in the Office for Undergraduate Education, we secured ongoing support for regular updates to the online directory as additional faculty complete the First at Tech registration in the years ahead.
Georgia Tech Queer Census
The motivation for this work is twofold: to fortify the current programming available to the
campus community related to the LGBTQ+ community, and to perhaps present a new avenue through which the campus administration can recognize otherwise invisible students. It well documented that there is a dissonance between the projected and reported queer populations in STEM. While Georgia Tech offers extensive support for its students, there is a possibility that some students are not aware of the available programming. Or that the available programming does not adequately represent a cross-section of the queer student body. The obvious remedy to this is to survey the student body. While there are similar endeavors occurring on campus already, a sample survey has been drafted and will be shared with various departments to initiate this process.
Increasing Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) at Georgia Tech
Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, Kyriaki Kalaitzidou, Kimberly Molina-Veronico, and Nancy Sandlin
It is important that Georgia Tech’s advisory boards and external volunteer roles have a composition that reflects and represents the diverse student population of Georgia Tech. The more diverse our advisory boards and external volunteers are, the greater the input and impact they provide to campus leaders, faculty, staff, students, and programs. These groups are the role models and mentors of our students. By highlighting and recruiting more underrepresented minorities to these roles, we are strengthening our advisory and volunteer programs, expanding our diverse talent, and are living our GT values and strategic plan.
The project focus is to measure our current URM population in these groups, expand the pipeline and recruiting methods, develop excellent URM onboarding procedures, identify best practices to ensure consistency across campus and to promote philanthropic opportunities that support URM-initiatives.
Measuring what Matters in Economic Development
Within the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EII), the economic development arm of Georgia Tech, we measure our impact with great accuracy. The 10 business units measure how many dollars we help Georgia companies save, the number of Georgia jobs we help create, and more. In the past we did not count the number of minority business enterprises (MBEs) we helped. Following conversations about the importance of measuring our impact and support of MBEs, four of the 10 business units have updated their data collection. Efforts will continue with the six remaining units. Now data is collected to better tell the story of the businesses and people we serve.
Mental Health and Well-Being at GT: Promoting Diversity, Inclusion, Access
The focus of this project is to better identify marginalized student populations and serve them in ways that are sensitive to their needs and preferences in terms of the receipt of mental health information and services. GT has many international students, students who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and students with marginalized identities, and co-occurring marginalized identities who are often overlooked by traditional outreach and service-delivery methods. Developing a service-delivery model for this campus which is focused on marginalized constituencies is a vital means of supporting all students within the GT community.
Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Undergraduate Research
The primary goals of this project are to:
1) Include students from underrepresented communities in undergraduate research and understand its importance at Tech and beyond.
2) Improve student’s confidence to find research.
3) organize a network of minority undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty.
With the help of Recha Reid (Student Innovation) and Jelani Liddell (OMED), I was able to start a conversation with students during OMED’s annual Academic Empowerment Fair in a session titled Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Research: Finding Research as an Underrepresented Minority Student, discussing the importance of research with a Q&A with Recha and Alejandro Da Silva Sanchez (SHPE) to give a faculty and graduate perspective. Future plans for this project include making the initiative campus-wide, plan more events with OMED and Undergrad Research Ambassadors, and start listening circles to understand inequities that student researchers may be facing on campus.
Student and Postdoc Parental Leave at Tech
Georgia Tech does not currently offer consistent, Institute-wide parental leave or guidance on parental leave for graduate students and postdocs. Peer institutions do have consistent policies, both for leave and for ensuring continuity of funding and healthcare, with 6-16 weeks of paid leave identified as existing policies at other institutions. Some institutions, including Duke, also offer childcare subsidies after a child has joined a family.
This project has identified three major challenges for Tech students and postdocs with new children: 1) dependence on advisors or PIs for funding and permission, including because a lack of centralized information requires students to disclose status to get information; 2) lack of an enrollment option that enables parents to stay on healthcare plans while on leave; and 3) childcare and time-to-degree challenges after the child’s arrival. Improvements are possible under state and USG rules.
Team Dynamics in All-Female Teams
Over the past eight months, the project has esearched team dynamics, conducted qualitative interviews, and gathered data through a quantitative survey to determine what went right in the all-female class that participated in MGT 4910 in spring 2020. Discovered themes included: high emotional understanding and regulation, team trust, vulnerability, equal workshare, and a positive sense of ownership; effective teams have high emotional intelligence, take a democratic approach to workshare, and foster an environment that allows members to be vulnerable with and trust one another. These findings are easily translated and applicable for the 38 women-centered organizations on Georgia Tech’s campus as well as more heterogeneous teams.
Women in Technology Community of Practice
The purpose of the Women in Technology (WIT) Community of Practice is to raise awareness of gender diversity issues within IT units and across the Georgia Tech campus, provide development and training around those issues and create a holding place or environment where networking and support can flourish. Membership is open to anyone that wishes to participate with an emphasis on those in the information technology units across Georgia Tech. Meetings convene every first Tuesday at noon virtually. We hope to gather in person when the pandemic is over. The initial steering committee consists of Pam Buffington, Associate Director – Academic Technology, Malynda Dorsey, Director – IT Marketing and Communications, Vicki Rogers, ITSM Process Manager Lead – Change, and Jessica Shaffer, Network Support Engineer Lead.
Work, Racial Equity, and Wellness Project
Tiffany D. Johnson
This is a two-pronged project with research and teaching components – both of which focus on re-imagining our approach to work by exploring the historical and present-day intersections of work, racial equity, and wellness. Regarding the teaching component, I am introducing a new course in Scheller College of Business. Students will be invited to re-imagine equitable work cultures by reflecting on course content and how it resonates with their lived experiences. It will be offered to MBA students in Summer 2021, and it will then be offered to Undergraduate students in Spring 2022.
Regarding the research component, a longitudinal participatory action research project related to the course material is underway. Moving forward, a goal is to continue to identify and enact innovative approaches that facilitate racial equity and wellness across organizational settings. To do so, I hope to offer a PhD seminar by 2023 and a Speaker Series by 2022.