What is our mission?
We believe it is important to make our values clear for all who are a part of our department and any who seek to join this department (including faculty, staff, and students).
It is an expressed mission of the Rice University Department of Psychological Sciences to actively counter prejudice and discrimination. More specifically, we aim to actively counter the detrimental effects of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all other forms of hatred directed at individuals or groups based upon group membership and identity. We understand that this mission must go beyond a statement alone; thus, we emphasize this statement as a first step to guide our subsequent words, actions, decision-making, and corrective measures. We aim to become a department that consistently engages in learning about the experiences of marginalized groups, actively supports the inclusion and development of all, and remains ready and willing to acknowledge mistakes or missteps we have made and will make along this path of improvement. See below for concrete actions toward these goals.
Why are we doing this work?
We want to make clear our motives and need for these efforts, as a group who collectively recognizes the moral responsibility and mutual benefits of inclusive and antiracist practices for all.
Though many of us have sought to make diversity and inclusion a key focus in our individual research, recruitment, teaching, and academic climate, we have recently shifted to a greater collective effort and have incorporated a more explicit focus on antiracism in 2020 and beyond. The racial reckoning in today’s world makes it clearer to us, than ever before, that anti-Black racism continues to be a violent pandemic that must be actively countered with authentic action. It is our belief that a fair and just environment of diverse colleagues and students, in particular Black, Native American, and Latinx people, benefits the educational progression, personal development, cultural awareness, and empathy of all. We are not comfortable with the current status quo and will not return to “business as usual.” Our actions are inspired by this moment in history to challenge ourselves to become a better department and offer a needed space for learning and growth, especially for marginalized group members - who, unfortunately, face daily challenges and threats that call for deserved understanding and support.
What specifically are we doing?
Words must be followed by aligned and authentic action. Below, we outline what we are doing to accomplish our mission. We hope to continue expanding these efforts, and we welcome feedback and ideas.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: The DEI Committee was recently established and will be actively maintained; it comprises faculty and students from each Research Interest Group (RIG) across the Department of Psychological Sciences. This committee will consistently assess where we stand, in terms of inclusion and antiracism efforts, and will create programs and processes to improve this department in these respects. We will also routinely conduct anonymous departmental surveys to evaluate our efforts and gather feedback on what can be improved.
- DEI Reading Group: A departmental group of faculty, staff, and students meets monthly to discuss issues, current events, readings, and goals. This group’s purpose is to further our collective knowledge and practices concerning important issues that affect the daily lived experiences of marginalized group members in society and in academia, such as racism, biases, microaggressions, harassment, and both overt and subtle discrimination.
- DEI in Hiring and Admissions: We truly believe that diverse voices and experiences housed within our department helps meet the goals of intellectual vitality and societal fairness. To commit to this belief, our department, across all RIGs, will engage in active efforts to recruit a diverse group of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, in particular welcoming those who are Black, Latinx, and Native American people.
- DEI Virtual Sessions: Our department recently launched a series of virtual information and insight sessions. These sessions aim to help us reach a broader and more diverse group of students—particularly those who are Black, Latinx, and/or Native American—for knowledge sharing, potential recruitment, civic engagement, and mutual growth and development.
- DEI in Teaching. We are working to integrate voices of scholars of color and antiracist discussions into our classes, as well as a significant representation of Black, Latinx, and Native American scholars in RIG talks and department colloquia. We will partner with the Rice Center for Teaching Excellence to further build the capacity of faculty and graduate students to present a balanced discussion of the challenges that impact the lives of diverse children, families, and adults, as well as emphasize their strengths and resiliency.
- DEI in our Local Community. As a long-term goal, the department will (in partnership with organizations such as Minorities in Social Sciences, Psi Chi, PSGSA) make greater efforts in recruitment and outreach with local HBCUs, campus groups supporting Black, Latinx, and Native American people at HWCUs, predominantly Black, Latinx, and Native American K-12 schools, and public schools in Houston to expose more students to psychology and Rice.
- DEI Summer Research Opportunities: As a department with research resources, opportunities, and expertise, we will consistently host a group of diverse undergraduate students (in particular, students who are Black, Latinx, and/or Native American) at Rice for summer research opportunities. We will partner with existing entities and work to establish internal funding mechanisms that support the inclusion of more students in the research experiences available in the Rice University Department of Psychological Sciences.