Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion in the Penn State College of Engineering and a lead of the APLU co-led Aspire Alliance’s Institutional Change Initiative, was featured in the third episode of “Collaborative Strategies for Inclusive Change,” the official podcast of the National Science Foundation INCLUDES Coordination Hub.
The podcast highlights specific projects and partnerships that aim to improve equity, inclusion and accessibility in engineering and science education and careers. Peeples, who is also a professor of chemical engineering, spoke about the national work she co-leads to make institutional changes to improve equity in engineering.
Also known as IChange, the Institutional Change Initiative the work is one of the major efforts the Aspire Alliance, one of the first five NSF INCLUDES alliances. IChange specifically focuses on helping post-secondary institutions assess their current practices and resources dedicated to recruiting, hiring and retaining faculty from underrepresented groups. IChange is designed with the ultimate goals of helping institutions look, act, and feel different. These changes should help to create more inclusive learning environments for underrepresented STEM students, more innovation among diverse and inclusive research teams, and better service to the communities in which universities and faculty serve.
Peeples noted that the IChange Network, currently 53 universities strong, has coordinate efforts to align institutional and division self-assessment data requests with the American Society for Engineering Education Engineering Dean’s Gender Equity initiative and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) SEA Change initiative. Housed at the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, the IChange Network is well positioned to support senior university leaders in cultivating team and institutional cultures oriented towards people-focused and data-informed strategies for change.
“We’re accountable for the work we’re doing,” Peeples said. “We’re thinking about how our efforts connect with the larger idea of identifying equity in engineering in our curriculum, in the experience for faculty, as well as for students and staff.”