Creating Spaces to Unpack Diversity in Physical Sciences: The CEOAS of a Professional Learning Community

Alejandra Sanchez-Rios1, Melissa McCracken2, Melva Treviño-Peña3, Jane Waite4, Adrienne Chan5, Thi B Truong6, Jennifer Ann Tatoi Kealohalani Wong-Ala2 and Christopher Liam Cosgrove7, (1)IONTU Institute of Oceanography National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, (2)Oregon State University, CEOAS, Corvallis, United States, (3)University of Rhode Island, Department of marine affairs, Narragansett, United States, (4)Oregon State University, Corvallis, United States, (5)Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, United States, (6)Oregon State University, CEOAS, Corvallis, OR, United States, (7)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
The College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Professional Learning Community (CEOAS PLC) at Oregon State University (OSU) was founded by graduate students in Spring 2017 as a discussion series that encourages conversations about issues of diversity, social justice, race, and discrimination. In 2017, CEOAS enrollment numbers showed that 75% of the enrolled undergraduate and graduate students and 82% of the teaching faculty identified as white. These statistics motivated the CEOAS PLC to explore the roots of this disparity in enrollment and to support students of color within the college. The CEOAS PLC is meant to create a space for students, faculty, and staff to have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of personal, institutional, and structural problems that affect communities of color in higher education. The discussion series was not intended to be only for people of color to talk about their experiences, but, rather, to provide the community with the correct language and tools to have meaningful discussions. The selection of each session involved careful planning of the delivery of the topic to an audience usually not motivated to consider issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through a lens of social justice. We have had measured success at the college level, the individual level, and at the personal level for two years. The sessions have been well-attended by the community and we have received positive feedback from our participants, with requests to address more issues about race. Furthermore, establishing the CEOAS PLC has helped us develop our own identities as scientists and researchers while giving us the self-confidence to become strong members of the academic community.