Last spring, Brown CS was chosen from a pool of candidates across Brown University to receive the 2021 DIAP (Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan) Community Award for academic departments. The honor recognizes an academic unit that has used the DIAP as a vehicle to actively create positive change for their department.
Laura Dobler, the Brown CS Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Liaison, says that she finds the recognition truly meaningful: “Brown’s culture has always been student-driven and collaborative, and we took that to another level with our plan, really listening to students and trying to improve. I think the award reflects how a lot of initiatives that started out as pilots have now become institutionalized in the department and part of what we do every day.”
Just a few of the recent Brown CS efforts cited in the DIAP include:
the Technology and Structural Inequity series, a collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA) that focuses on the impact of technology on marginalized communities
a program for college students from historically underrepresented groups in CS that explores socially responsible ways to use AI
the creation of a new introductory track that transforms the two-semester sequence into three semesters, decreasing the weekly workload to make studying CS more feasible and accessible for students who are engaged in other programs
a student-led program to help underrepresented candidates apply to computer science PhD programs
and the comprehensive Socially Responsible Computing program, which puts societal and ethical issues at the heart of the Brown CS undergraduate experience
More information about diversity and inclusion at Brown CS is available at https://cs.brown.edu/about/diversity.
In addition to developing a Phase 2 DIAP in the months ahead, Brown CS is looking forward to several new initiatives. These include taking part in an NSF program to craft plans for broadening participation in computing, finding ways to diversify funding for programs like exploreCSR, and launching a new Center for Computing for the People. Future efforts fall into five main categories: improving recruiting and retention, bringing accessibility and universal design to the forefront of curriculum development, building community, increasing accountability, and augmenting research opportunities for students from historically underrepresented groups.
“The work is never done,” Laura says, “but what I’m especially proud of is that this award makes it clear that everything we’ve done isn’t exclusively a Diversity Committee project but something that the whole department is involved in. The number of people who are interested in this effort and are committed to it really shines through. Diversity and inclusion is becoming part of our culture, and that’s what’s going to get us to our next set of goals and beyond.”
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication and Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.