Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Statement of Purpose

Water covers over two thirds of the earth's surface and its presence is essential for all life. Organisms in the ocean produce over half of the world’s oxygen and the ocean is essential in the regulation of the earth’s climate. The oceans have absorbed one quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions over the last several centuries and over 90 percent of the excess heat in the climate system. Half of the human population lives near the coast, marine resources provide many people with necessary nutrition, and global shipping traffic connects people across the globe. The ocean touches the lives of all people on earth. 

Within the School of Oceanography, we strive to build processes and sustain a culture where we invite and support a diverse community. We also strive to learn about and acknowledge the people whose land and lives are touched by the oceans we study. We aspire to make a difference that is impactful and respectful to those past, present and future generations that inhabit our planet.

The School of Oceanography is committed to cultivating an equitable and inclusive environment for all current and future members of our community. We believe diversity is essential to achieving excellence in research, both in the lab and at sea, and teaching. Thus, we strive to create a community where people of all backgrounds feel welcome and are supported.

Statement of Acknowledgement

Our community acknowledges that we must work to address the culture of White supremacy in our department and in the geosciences as a whole. We must ensure that racial and gender microaggressions, exclusion, bullying, and discriminatory remarks are addressed as pervasive, systemic issues. 

The geosciences and ocean sciences in particular have lagged behind other STEM disciplines in the diversity of students, faculty and workforce (Bernard & Cooperdock, 2018). The lack of diversity reflects the history of White supremacy within the culture at large, in academic ocean sciences and the UW School of Oceanography.  Presently, the diversity represented in our undergraduates and land based staff is not reflected in our majority White graduate students, postdocs, marine operations staff, and faculty. 

Statement of Action

We commit to systematically examine and change processes and structures within the School to achieve a more equitable, diverse and inclusive environment. While we have begun to make changes, there is more work to do that requires the active engagement of all members of our community. This work is not only occurring within the DEI Committee, but also on the Faculty Council, on the Faculty Hiring Committee, the Academic and Recreational Graduate Oceanographers (ARGO) student organization, the RaceTalk Book Club and in informal discussions.   

Ongoing Efforts

In Spring 2020, the School of Oceanography faculty accepted a revision of the graduate application prompts and application review processes. We implemented these changes and the students that were invited to join the School were the most diverse in School history.

We are continuing to highlight the importance of considering diversity issues within the entire hiring process for new faculty members by defining the areas in which we want to hire, scouting potential applicants, and in designing rubrics for evaluation of candidates. 

Over the next 5 months the DEI committee will work on drafting a School of Oceanography Diversity Plan with a goal of making the plan available to the community by the end of summer for feedback. 

Ethan Campbell is leading an effort to examine the results from the September 2020 School of Oceanography Culture Survey.  

Our work fits into efforts in the College of the Environment and the University of Washington as a whole.                  

Land Acknowledgement

The School of Oceanography acknowledges that it occupies the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples, and honors the peoples on whose traditional land and water we work.