Diversity and Inclusion Statement
The Department of Sociology at Florida State University values diversity and inclusion within our community. We uphold the right of all students, staff, and faculty to work and learn in an environment that enables them to achieve their potential both professionally and personally and we strive to address the entrenched social inequalities within higher education and society at large. We are committed to increasing representation of and support for individuals from groups traditionally under-represented in academia and to creating an environment that encourages the open exchange of ideas, learning and dialogue across cultural and group boundaries. As a result of these values, the Department seeks to:
- Admit and support a diverse community of graduate students
- Recruit and retain a diverse community of faculty and staff
- Provide an inclusive working environment for all.
1) Admit and Support a Diverse Community of Graduate Students
The Department of Sociology at Florida State University is committed to admitting and supporting a diverse community of graduate students. We strongly encourage applications from underrepresented racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, gender, sexual, and romantic minorities, as well as individuals with disabilities and first-generation college students. We also desire applicants from diverse countries of origin and undergraduate institutions and we aim to support students interested in a wide range of sociological topics, research methods, and theoretical perspectives.
2)Recruit and Retain a Diverse Community of Faculty and Staff
The Department of Sociology at Florida State University is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse community of faculty and staff. We strive to build a department of individuals dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, and service, committed to equity and inclusiveness, and reflective of the diversity of our student body. We especially encourage employment applications from women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with a demonstrated commitmentto a culturally and intellectually diverse workplace.
3) Provide an Inclusive Working Environment for All
The Department of Sociology at Florida State University strives to create a welcoming culture. This includes establishing an inclusive and respectful day-to-day environment for student, staff and faculty interactions, diverse and inclusive research opportunities and courses, and strong mentoring programs. Our faculty and students regularly research the causes, processes, and outcomes of social inequalities as experienced by diverse groups (e.g., race, class, gender, age, sexuality) and across diverse social contexts (e.g. relationships, workplaces, schools, health care institutions, communities, the state). Our faculty and graduate instructors also are dedicated to student learning and wellbeing, striving to create an environment where students can respectfully engage in meaningful dialogue about pressing social issues. Our aim is to ensure that all members of our community feel a sense of belonging and support and are empowered to fully participate in shaping our departmental culture.
Statement of Goals
The Department of Sociology at Florida State University strives to promote diversity and inclusion within our community through the pursuit of the broad goals listed below.
We aim to:
- Recruit graduate students, faculty, and staff using practices that attract applicants from diverse and traditionally underrepresented communities.
- Create and sustain an environment where all members of our academic community feel valued for their differences and contributions.
- Create and sustain an environment where all members of our academic community feel free to collaborate and participate in scholarly and professional activities without fear of repercussions.
- Assure that classrooms are spaces where students feel respected and empowered to learn, with regard to both inclusive classroom practices and course materials.
- Include diverse voices and perspectives in our course curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- Identify and address barriers to equality and inclusivity in our community, both on an institutional and an interpersonal level.
Statement of Practices
The Department’s commitment to reaching the broad goals outlined above is currently demonstrated in a number of specific practices:
- Recruiting Diverse Graduate Students. The faculty are committed to recruiting a diverse pool of graduate students. The Director of Graduate Studies constructs and maintains recruitment communications (e.g., emails, website, etc.) that reflect our commitment to diversity. In addition to being broadly disseminated, these communications are targeted specifically to eligible undergraduate students in the McNair program, the FAMU Feeder program, and HBCUs. The Admissions Committee uses a “holistic rating rubric” when assessing applicants, which ensures that standardized test scores–which are known to be biased–do not outweigh other evidence of potential success (e.g., transcripts, writing samples, persistence and motivation, etc.). Accepted and eligible applicants are nominated to University-level fellowships that focus on students from underrepresented groups, including the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, The Leslie N. Wilson-Delores Auzenne Assistantship for Minorities, the FAMU Feeder Fellowship, the McNair Scholars Fellowship, and the Legacy Fellowship. The Director of Graduate Studies annually discusses efforts to recruit diverse graduate students with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
- Supporting and Graduating Graduate Students. The faculty are committed to supporting and graduating a diverse graduate student population. The Department maintains a mentoring program that matches each new graduate student to both a faculty and a peer mentor. Once students have settled into the program, they are encouraged to assess their initial mentor assignment and develop additional mentor-mentee relationships. Graduate students from underrepresented groups also are encouraged to join relevant “affinity” groups established at the university and college levels. The Director of Graduate Studies works closely with the Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee to provide written annual evaluations of each graduate student’s performance and progress in the program, as well as relevant suggestions for improvement. To complete these evaluations, detailed information is solicited from all advisors, instructors, and work supervisors that have had meaningful contact with the graduate students. In conjunction with the department’s Academic Specialist, the Director of Graduate Studies also regularly solicits feedback from graduate students on potential barriers to success and needed resources, and provides confidential advising and mediation in the event of student concerns or grievances. Student-elected graduate student representatives sit on all internal department committees, with the exception of the Personnel Committee and the Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee, and graduate students are included in the annual departmental climate survey, which focuses primarily on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Finally, the Graduate Program Committee and three subject Area Committees regularly assess the graduate program curriculum to ensure student needs are met for timely graduation and job placement and that course materials adequately represent diverse perspectives and historically underrepresented scholars, authors, and content creators.
- Recruiting Diverse Faculty and Staff. The Department strives to recruit faculty and staff from a diverse pool of candidates. All job advertisements include a statement indicating our commitment to diversity in hiring and every effort is made to advertise broadly and in outlets that will attract applicants from underrepresented groups. All members of faculty hiring committees undertake training in diversity and hiring practices and every faculty hiring committee designates a diversity representative who is responsible for tracking and documenting each stage of the hiring process as it pertains to diversity issues. Every faculty hiring committee also includes at least one individual who is a member of the departmental Diversity and Inclusion Committee. One criteria used to assess applicants is their demonstrated commitmentto a culturally and intellectually diverse workplace.
- Supporting and Promoting Diverse Faculty. The Department is committed to retaining and promoting a diverse group of faculty. The Faculty Mentoring Committee maintains a mentoring program that matches each faculty member who is not yet at the highest rank to one mentor from each higher rank (i.e. Assistant Professors and Specialized Teaching Faculty I have two mentors, Associate Professors and Specialized Teaching Faculty II have only one). These assignments rotate each year, helping newer faculty to form relationships with an array of more senior faculty and providing opportunities to discuss professional development and departmental culture. Faculty also are made aware of and encouraged to participate in relevant “affinity” groups established at the university and college levels, as well as workshops and presentations that focus on issues of diversity, inclusion, and mentorship. The Department Chair works closely with the elected Personnel Committee to prepare detailed written annual evaluations of each faculty member’s performance and and/or progress towards next promotion, as well as relevant suggestions for improvement. During one-on-one annual review meetings, the Department Chair discusses these evaluations, as well as any concerns related to service assignments, access to mentorship, and departmental climate. To ensure transparency and strive for equity, the Chair makes publicly available a listing of all department-level faculty service assignments and works to create balance between the faculty in terms of number of committee assignments and/or intensity of assignments. In recognition of the fact that faculty from underrepresented groups often face higher service and advising/mentoring demands, much of which is either outside of the department or is informal in nature, the Chair regularly works to gather information on these activities and uses that information to inform service-work assignments within the department. Finally, to foster recognition of the research that those within our department conduct on issues related to social inequality, diversity, discrimination, and marginalized identities and experiences, the Department’s administrative team and the Social Media and Visibility Committee regularly promote faculty and student research via our department’s website and social media outlets. In addition, faculty and students are encouraged to contribute to the College’s blog, Wicked Problem, Wicked Solutions, and are encouraged to work with the College and University’s communication teams to publicize their work.
- Creating and Sustaining an Environment Where All Members Feel Valued and Free to Participate. Each semester, the Department holds a minimum of two department-wide meetings that are open to all faculty, graduate students, and staff. All are free to make announcements, ask questions, or raise concerns. Most departmental business is carried out by committees, and all faculty, regardless of rank, engage in committee work and are eligible for election to the Departmental Policy/Personnel Committee. All faculty, regardless of rank, have a vote in any faculty hiring decisions and graduate students are included in the interview process. Student-elected graduate student representatives sit on all department committees, with the exception of the Personnel Committee and the Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee. In these ways, departmental members are represented in the decision-making of the department. All faculty, staff, and graduate students receive regular updates about departmental business, as well as workshops, presentations, trainings, and working group activities being held at the department, college and university levels. The Director of Undergraduate Studies also organizes several workshops and presentations per semester for our undergraduate students, and they are encouraged to take advantage of the many college and university level events. In addition, all instructors are encouraged to include links to helpful resources in their course syllabi and to make class announcements about activities or opportunities relevant to their students. We also strive to build community through the Sociology Graduate Student Union (SGSU), area working groups, brown bag discussions, our local chapter of Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and social gatherings. Each year the Department presents awards to recognize excellence in teaching among both our faculty and graduate instructors and excellence in research among our graduate and undergraduate students. The SGSU also presents awards to faculty and graduate students to honor excellence in teaching, mentoring, and service.
- Ensuring Diverse and Inclusive Classroom Practices, Materials and Curriculum. The Department is committed to ensuring that our teaching reflects best practices in terms of diversity and inclusion at all levels of instruction. The Graduate Program Committee and three subject Area Committees regularly assess the graduate program curriculum to ensure student needs are met for timely graduation and job placement and that both course offerings and course materials adequately represent diverse voices and perspectives. Similarly, the Undergraduate Program Committee, in conjunction with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, regularly assesses the undergraduate program curriculum to ensure that course offerings adequately cover a diversity of topics and represent a diversity of perspectives. Instructors are encouraged to include links to helpful resources in their course syllabi and to make class announcements about activities or opportunities related to diversity, inclusion, and support for marginalized communities. Both graduate and undergraduate students are offered supplementary workshops and presentations that focus on professional development and issues of diversity and inclusion. The Department also maintains a communally accessible Canvas organizational page that serves as a clearinghouse of information related to curriculum/syllabi development and best teaching practices, and aims to offer one to two workshops/presentations per semester focused specifically on teaching-related issues.
- Identifying and addressing barriers to equality and inclusivity in our community. Each spring, all faculty, staff and graduate students in the department are surveyed about the department climate and their personal experiences in relation to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. The results of this survey are examined by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and used to make appropriate recommendations for change, and are then disseminated to the department at an open departmental meeting during the Fall semester. In addition, the Director of Graduate Studies and the department’s Academic Specialist regularly solicit feedback from graduate students on potential barriers to success and needed resources, and provide confidential advising and mediation in the event of student concerns or grievances. The graduate students also maintain their own student organization, the Sociology Graduate Student Union (SGSU), which provides peer-to-peer mentoring and an organizational structure to promote graduate student interests and express graduate student concerns.
- Providing Information about Cultural and Diversity Competency Opportunities on Campus. The broader FSU campus offers many potential support networks, social events, and informational and training opportunities for faculty, students and staff to become more culturally competent and knowledgeable about issues related to diversity and inclusion. The Department works to make its members aware of these opportunities. The Chair, Director of Graduate Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies regularly disseminate email and social media notifications of departmental and campus activities to department members and the broader university community. At each departmental meeting, the Chair announces relevant upcoming workshops, presentations and trainings. Instructors are encouraged to include links to helpful resources in their course syllabi and to make class announcements about activities or opportunities relevant to their students. The Department currently is working to establish a page on its website that will contain links to on-campus units and organizations that regularly offer professional development opportunities related to diversity and inclusion, social and/or professional networking opportunities for those affiliated with underrepresented or marginalized groups, and resources for teaching with diversity and inclusion in mind.
The diversity and inclusion goals and practices of the Department are not limited to those described in this statement. As we move forward in our efforts to create the best possible environment for all of our community members, we will continue to develop our goals and to seek out best practices to help us meet the needs and uphold the values of our students, faculty, and staff.