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Projects & Initiatives
Travis York, Ph.D.
Project Manager

ASPIRE: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty

In order to develop bold, new educational models that broaden participation in STEM programs and fields, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a five-year, $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant co-led by APLU and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL), based at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

ASPIRE Alliance logoASPIRE: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty will pursue three mutually reinforcing strategic goals all focused on faculty. The ultimate aim is attracting more underrepresented students—women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds—into STEM college programs, assist them to stay in these programs, and help them graduate and succeed in a modern STEM workforce.

Joining the lead institutions in the new alliance are Iowa State University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Texas at El Paso; and the University of Georgia. These universities are partnering with dozens of other universities, two-year colleges and organizations across the country to scale practices aimed at diversifying the nation’s STEM college educators and grounding them in inclusive teaching practices.

The Alliance is among the first five NSF INCLUDES Alliance awards to be made by the NSF.

The Alliance’s three goals are to:

  • Deepen the preparation of all future, early-career and current STEM faculty to be inclusive and effective in their undergraduate teaching, research mentoring and advising;
  • Diversify the national faculty through effective recruitment, hiring, and retention of URG STEM faculty via institutional transformation in practices, policies, and resources;
  • Foster postsecondary institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly, and in the context of STEM faculty work specifically.

The project’s overarching strategy is to bring about national systemic change for STEM faculty. by aligning and reinforcing professional development and hiring practices simultaneously at institutional, regional, and national levels. To foster institutional change, the alliance will assist institutions to self-assess and improve their underrepresented group hiring and retention practices; and the inclusive teaching practices of their entire faculty. Regional collaboratives of two-year colleges, four-year universities, local research universities and businesses will work together to develop and onboard skilled and diverse faculty in two-year colleges, where many underrepresented students begin higher education. The alliance will seek national change by partnering with disciplinary, underrepresented group-serving, and professional development organizations to align faculty disciplinary experiences with their institutional experiences deriving from the institutional and regional change initiatives.

This Alliance builds on earlier NSF INCLUDES pilot projects by APLU and CIRTL, awarded in 2016. APLU examined many of its member institutions’ and expert partner organizations’ institutional efforts and practices to recruit, hire, and retain diverse STEM faculty. The association also worked to identify and begin a series of transformative institutional activities aimed at increasing participation along the STEM pathways toward a doctorate. CIRTL focused on creating an alliance to prepare future STEM faculty to use teaching practices that increase the learning, persistence and degree completion of underrepresented students in STEM fields.