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Association of Public & Land-grant Universities
Office of Research, Innovation & STEM Policy
District Of Columbia
Posted: 01/13/2021
Recruitment for Design Thinking & Visual Thinking Meeting Design and Facilitation Services

Projected Funding Allotment
Up to $18,000

Scope of Work
The EEIDSP Conference Series is looking for design thinking and/or visual thinking facilitators who, on a consultant basis, will work with the EEIDSP Conference Series Planning Committee to design and execute three 4-hour virtual convenings of university leaders, external funders, higher education and STEM scholars. The consultant’s scope of work may include, but is not limited to:

  • Advising Conference Series Planning & Steering Committee members on design and visual thinking strategies to meet session goals;
  • Training and supporting five Planning Committee members in executing design thinking facilitation;
  • Designing and facilitating activities to help approximately 50 participants in each session envision alternative futures for the STEM professoriate, including:
    • Understanding the needs of individuals;
    • Generative brainstorming; and,
    • Solution designing and testing;
  • Designing MURAL templates and activities to allow participants to work collaboratively in the Zoom virtual environment (subscription provided);
  • Documenting session activities and providing evidence of learning and discussions through visualization including graphics, notes, or other means.
  • Helping design toward a summative report or other output that synthesizes learning across the three sessions.

Project Background
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF #2041007), is hosting a series of three half-day virtual convenings to bring together the STEM higher education community to imagine new futures in implementation and research on creating an inclusive and diverse STEM professoriate. The convenings’ goals are to:

  • Encourage participants to think boldly about restructuring significant elements of the underrepresented group (URG) STEM faculty experience;
  • Identify points of collaboration and collective action to address ongoing sticking points in efforts to transform the interdependent STEM “ecosystem;”
  • Surface new areas for research to inform future evidence-based lines of activity, intervention, and systemic change efforts.

The EEIDSP Conference Series will be constituted as “think tanks” in which participants will help to conceptualize possible new models, structures, networks, or research to support ongoing and future transformation efforts. By leveraging the experiential expertise of higher education leaders and the research expertise of higher education scholars, participants will collectively identify new avenues for implementation and research, which will be incorporated into a final synthesis across all three sessions.

The think tanks are designed to engage a broad number of stakeholders in the STEM ecosystem to tackle the seemingly intractable problem of a system-wide increase of URG STEM faculty and the use of inclusive and equity-informed practices by co-constructing a future-facing plan for change and research. Using a design-thinking approach, participants will be empowered to identify innovative approaches towards faculty recruitment and hiring, the evaluation of faculty, and leadership that centers equity. The resulting deliverables and engagement from institutions’, funders’, disciplines’, and other organizations’ representatives will serve as a launch pad for improving STEM by identifying new strategies for implementation and lines for scholarship to build upon our collective prior successes in making change. In collaboration with participants, we aim to shift the conversation and help support the evolving evidence-based, future-facing agenda to broaden participation in STEM. APLU plans to use the results of these conversations to shape our strategies to support public research university innovation towards more equitable teaching, learning, working, and research environments.

Virtual Meeting Topics
The three meeting topics below were developed to reinforce a systems approach to the complex issues of broadening participation in the STEM professoriate. Over the past several decades federal agencies, particularly NSF & NIH, and other philanthropic organizations have funded a broad array of initiatives seeking to increase the diversity of the STEM enterprise. These efforts have indeed increased the structural diversity of our system, however, not at the rate or quantity desired or needed to meet the United States’ twenty-first century workforce demands. To achieve the transformation desired, we must attend to the systems and cultures in which these individuals exist. The series below approaches this complex problem by critically examining and reimagining the essential structures that promote or limit access for the recruitment and hiring; retention and promotion; and support and leadership of underrepresented scholars in the academy.

Part 1 - Aligning the Recruitment & Hiring of Diverse STEM Faculty (March 4, 2021) This convening will engage leaders in an ecosystems approach to conceptualize and operationalize definitions of inclusive excellence in the recruitment and hiring of URG STEM faculty, and identify lines of future research. Concurrent design session topics might include the role and use of statements on contributions to DEI, equity-informed evaluation of scholarly promise, and enhancing networks and relationships between early career URG scholars and STEM departments.

Part 2 – Equitable STEM Faculty Evaluation & Reviews of Research (June 3, 2021)
This convening will focus on emerging research and implementation strategies to increase the alignment of faculty evaluation and promotion practices to operationalize inclusive excellence for all faculty—two essential aspects of retaining URG faculty. Concurrent design session topics might include reframing “high impact” journals and measures, considerations for what kinds and types of research are rewarded and funded, standards of teaching in STEM, alternatives to student evaluations of teaching, and understanding and valuing the impact and costs of service for underrepresented faculty.

Part 3 - Inclusive Leadership to Support Diverse & Inclusive STEM Faculty (September 16, 2021)
This convening will focus on engaging institutional leaders in developing an equity-centered framework for institutional leadership, with an explicit focus on leading institutional change for a more diverse and inclusive STEM faculty in the context of the current global pandemic and resulting fiscal crises. Concurrent design session topics might include equity impacts in financial decision making, centering underrepresented group voices and experiences in decision making, and aligning equity considerations with legislative priorities.

Convening Logistics. The three half-day virtual convenings will take place over approximately 10 months, with virtual convenings to be held on March 4, 2021, June 3, 2021, and September 16, 2021. Each convening will be developed as a half-day (approximately 4 hours) virtual engagement using the Zoom platform to host the plenaries, concurrent sessions, and closing, and the platform to provide virtual collaborative workspaces. The convenings will incorporate pre-meeting materials to allow for a work-based synchronous meeting and use design thinking strategies to support participants’ learning and co-construction of forward-facing implementation and future research plans. Each meeting will target a set of key stakeholders who bring essential content and context knowledge from various aspects of the higher education system needed to address these complex issues.

Preference given to individuals/entities with experience in:

  • Conducting design-thinking and/or visual facilitation services for higher education, STEM, public service, and/or diversity, equity, and inclusion focused problems;
  • Designing and conducting meetings virtually using tools such as Zoom and MURAL;
  • Training others in design thinking facilitation principles and practices

How to Apply
Please send a resume or project portfolio and proposed scope of work with estimated costs to Jessica Bennett, Project PI ( Proposals will be reviewed as received, with preference to those received by February 8, 2021.

About APLU
APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 245 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.2 billion in university-based research.