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This policy was approved by the SEBS Faculty on December 8, 2022.

Given that:

  • One of President Holloway’s goals is the achievement of “a beloved community”,
  • The SEBS/NJAES Diversity Action Plan includes Goal 3 “Promote Inclusive Teaching and Scholarship”,
  • Under Goal 3 is action 3.2 “Develop new and enhance existing curricular and extracurricular opportunities and programs to support DEIJ [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice] in course delivery, engagement, and content development”,
  • A specific action under 3.2 is “Work with faculty, UPD, GPD, and the CEP to add course content to incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice frameworks into discussions within the discipline”,
  • One of the metrics associated with Goal 3 is “Evaluation of syllabi for DEIJ-supporting materials”,
  • The purpose of DEIJ-supporting materials is to indicate to our students that we value and respect diverse backgrounds and ideas, and provide an equitable and inclusive experience in each class, and
  • The AAUP report Freedom in the Classroom states that “although instructors are ethically obligated to follow approved curricular guidelines, ‘freedom in the classroom’ affords instructors wide latitude to decide how to approach a subject, how best to present and explore the material, and so forth.”

The following shall be the policy of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences:

  • The CEP Committee will require a DEI Statement to be included in each course syllabus pertaining to new courses or course revisions under their review.
  • Instructors of existing courses must include a DEI Statement in their syllabi as well.
  • Enforcement of this policy for existing courses will be carried out by the Instructional Assessment Committee and Academic Departments or Programs.
  • Instructors should discuss their DEI Statement with their students on the first day of class.
  • The components of a DEI statement typically include ideas such as:
    • Respect for classmates and their identities
    • Diversity of students’ experiences and ideas
    • The historical context and possible biases of the subject area
    • Information regarding who to contact in the event of an issue, such as the Office of Academic Programs and/or
  • Faculty are free to choose the wording of their DEI Statement, using the following examples as guides:
    • Example A (general wording that fits most if not all SEBS courses):
      It is our intention that students of all backgrounds will be well served by this course. We will work to create an environment of inclusion which respects and affirms the inherent dignity, value, and uniqueness of all individuals, communities and perspectives. We are lucky to have a diverse university. Diverse voices and life experiences enhance the learning process and we welcome students to share their personal experiences. We will not tolerate disrespectful language or behavior against any individual or group. If you feel as though you have been disrespected or treated unfairly by the instructors or any other individual please let us know. You may speak with the instructors in person, over email or report anonymously via the Office of Academic Programs. In addition, you may also report bias to the Rutgers Diversity and Inclusion initiative using this link:
    • Example B (more specific wording that requires modification to suit a particular course):
      In an ideal world, science would be objective. However, much of science is subjective and is historically built on a small subset of privileged voices. I acknowledge that most of the readings for this course were authored by white men. Furthermore, the course often focuses on historically important reproductive, developmental, and toxicological experiments which were mostly conducted by white men. I acknowledge that it is possible that there may be both overt and covert biases in the material due to the lens with which it was written, even though the material is primarily of a scientific nature. Integrating a diverse set of experiences is important for a more comprehensive understanding of science. Please contact me (in person or electronically) or submit anonymous feedback if you have any suggestions to improve the quality of the course materials.
      Furthermore, I would like to create a learning environment for my students that supports a diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities (including race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, ability, etc.) To help accomplish this:

      • I acknowledge that we are on the traditional homelands of the Lenni Lenape peoples.
      • If you have a name and/or set of pronouns that differ from those that appear in your official Rutgers records, please let me know.
      • If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please don’t hesitate to come and talk with me. I want to be a resource for you. Remember that you can also submit anonymous feedback (which will lead to me making a general announcement to the class, if necessary to address your concerns).
      • I (like many people) am still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If something was said in class (by anyone) that made you feel uncomfortable, please talk to me about it (Again, anonymous feedback is always an option).
    • Example C (emphasizes that difficult topics may be discussed in class):
      The topics that we’re covering in this class are often difficult, not just intellectually but emotionally. While I expect there to be rigorous discussion and even disagreement in the course of our class discussions, I ask that you engage in discussion with care and empathy for the other members in the classroom. Aim to disagree without becoming disagreeable. In this class we will not shy away from the uncomfortable. Critically examining and assessing our most basic assumptions and values is an activity vital to living an authentic life. I urge you to have the courage to the uncomfortable in this class. In exchange for your courage, I will work to ensure a classroom environment that supports your taking these intellectual and emotional risks.
    • OTEAR provides additional resources that can assist faculty as they write DEI statements. Groups affiliated with other universities provided resources as well, including:
  • The phrase “DEI Statement” is not meant to be prescriptive in this policy. At the faculty member’s discretion, alterative phrases such as “Diversity Statement”, “DEIJ Statement”, or other similar language are acceptable on syllabi.
  • This policy shall take effect beginning in the Fall 2023 semester for existing courses, and immediately for new and revised courses proposals that come before the CEP Committee.