Georgia State University (GSU) will be partnering with FIU’s Office to Advance Women, Equity, and Diversity as part of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant. The three-year, $1.0M project provides support for GSU to adapt and implement several of FIU’s ADVANCE initiatives to enhance faculty equity, including the award-winning AWED Bystander Leadership Program (BLP). The GSU program is titled ADVANCE-IMPACT (Intersectionality and Mentoring in the Professoriate for Advancement, Community, and Transformation).
As part of this grant, FIU AWED hosted several faculty members from GSU to attend FIU’s Bystander Leadership Training workshop as guests during Fall 2022. Visitors included GSU ADVANCE Principal Investigator Marise Parent, Ph.D.,Co-Principal Investigators Megan Connors, Ph.D. and Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D., and Senior Personnel Jennie Burnet, Ph.D., as well as several other GSU faculty.
Marise Parent and Jennie Burnet
The Bystander Leadership Program, which has been recognized nationally, is a one-day, interactive educational program for faculty members that is intended to move participants from “insight” to “action” to increase inclusion among faculty as well as to address gender and race bias within faculty interactions in positive and prosocial ways. The Bystander workshops utilize theater performances with professional actors, intersectionality exercises, role-playing, and intervention training in order to create a safe and inclusive environment in the academic workplace.
“I was incredibly impressed by this training,” Marise Parent says. “I left feeling confident and empowered that I now had more knowledge and concrete skills to help promote a positive climate at work. BLP’s use of interactive theater and case studies will help GSU faculty practice intervening in difficult situations that can undermine feelings of inclusion and fairness.”
FIU and GSU are both schools with diverse student bodies, but the schools differ in some ways. According to Jennie Burnet, “both universities qualify as Minority Serving Institutions under federal guidelines, but their student bodies differ. FIU is the largest Hispanic serving institution in the United States whereas Georgia State University has awarded more bachelor’s degrees to African American students than any other university in the United States for several years running.”
These demographics may result in different professional environments, such as cultural sensitivities that may be expressed by the students and faculty of both schools. However, despite the demographic differences, the student bodies of both schools illustrate diversity in higher education. Burnet observes that both departments are committed to the “recruitment, retention, and promotion of women and faculty from underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.” Parent adds that “GSU and FIU share similarities when it comes to our interests and dedication in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. GSU is not as far along in this path as FIU, but we’re looking forward to learning the best practices that have advanced FIU’s goals.”
The partnership between FIU and GSU is intended to have efforts that go both ways. Though the ADVANCE program at GSU has not been around as long as the one at FIU, Parent hopes that they will be able to “identify situations that might be unique to GSU and to generate scripts and case studies based on these situations.” These observations can lead to opportunities for new learning at both FIU and GSU.
Read more about the ADVANCE program at GSU here.