College of HSH Presents: Profs share research on diversity, inclusivity in the workplace
Cultivating an inclusive, culturally responsive learning and working environment is a critical part of any academic institution's success. Two professors in University of Houston-Clear Lake's College of Human Sciences and Humanities will share their research on this issue in a virtual presentation Monday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.
Associate Professors Amy Lucas and Desdamona Rios, who teach sociology and psychology respectively, said they had been collaborating with a team to collect the data for their presentation, entitled "Definitions of Diversity and their Impact on Creating Culturally Responsive Learning Environments."
Their presentation is the second installment in a monthly virtual lecture series called, "The College of Human Sciences and Humanities Presents…" which aims to explore the far-ranging topics researched by the College's professors over the course of the spring 2021 semester.
"Our professors are producing research that is responsive to social issues; we are interested in the work of our colleagues across disciplinary and departmental lines; and we are eager to welcome others into the dialogue with us," said College of HSH's Interim Dean Samuel Gladden.
Rios explained that they were part of a grant writing team and they had applied to the National Science Foundation's ADVANCE program. "The goals are to find ways to diversify STEM fields which includes examining cultural practices that may exclude white women and people of color," she said. "The focus group interviews will inform the types of workshops and other learning opportunities for UHCL faculty, staff, and administrators to develop knowledge and skills for making our campus more equitable for everyone. The focus groups provided us with valuable information about where to start based on UHCL's needs."
"We heard our colleagues say that a lot of initiatives are implemented from the top down," Rios said. "We assessed workplace satisfaction, conducting interviews that allowed us to look at more nuanced subjects, like equity, diversity and inclusion. We discussed what our collective understandings are of those terms with the goal of answering the question: are we all on the same page?"
Rios explained the data they'd received was still in the process of evaluation. "We are now looking at the baseline collective knowledge about what these words mean," she said. "We use them all the time, but we haven't asked each other what we mean by them. What do these words mean here at UHCL? This is the question we're asking."
The presentation will examine best practices for improving the workplace. "We're looking at the degree to which we actually implement those practices," she said. "By understanding where we are, we can create initiatives that are tailored to our needs at UH-Clear Lake. We are looking for ways to actually implement these practices in our university."
Lucas said that collecting this data had been a group effort. "We are very appreciative of the faculty who were willing to be in a focus group, especially in the midst of a pandemic," she said. "Faculty were very generous with their time and willingness to share. This demonstrates their commitment to seeing these initiatives realized and their desire to be part of something to strengthen the university."
To register for the Feb. 8 event, go online.