To broaden participation in STEM programs and fields, the National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $10 million INCLUDES Alliance grant to be co-led by UW-Madison’s Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

CIRTL is a collaborative network of 39 research universities based in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) within UW‒Madison’s School of Education, according to a press release from the university, and funding for this new alliance builds on an earlier NSF INCLUDES pilot project awarded to CIRTL in 2016.

“NSF INCLUDES was conceived as a sustained effort, a recognition that a problem as complex as the need to broaden participation in STEM requires a long-term, collaborative approach,” says NSF Director France Córdova in a press release. “After laying the groundwork through pilot projects, NSF INCLUDES is taking a significant step toward creating a true national network with these new awards.”

Iowa State University; the University of California, Los Angeles; University of Georgia; and University of Texas at El Paso will join the lead institutions in the National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty. These universities will partner with dozens of other universities, two-year colleges and organizations across the country to scale practices aimed at diversifying the nation’s STEM college educators and grounding them in inclusive teaching practices.

The new alliance seeks to attract and retain more underrepresented students – women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds – in STEM college programs, and prepare them to succeed in a modern STEM workforce.

To accomplish this, the alliance will:
• Deepen the preparation of all future, early-career and current STEM faculty to be inclusive and effective in their undergraduate teaching, research mentoring and advising;
• Diversify college faculty nationally through effective recruitment, hiring and retention of underrepresented STEM faculty via institutional transformation in practices, policies and resources;
• Foster post-secondary institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly, and in the context of STEM faculty work specifically.

“We are delighted to be among the first recipients of NSF’s INCLUDES Alliance awards,” states Robert Mathieu, an astronomy professor at UW-Madison who co-directs the new alliance, in a statement. “Despite the importance of a more diverse faculty and the use of more inclusive practices by all faculty to advance learning and student success, improvement efforts have not been as successful as needed, particularly in STEM subjects. For example, underrepresented minority faculty are a mere 8 percent of associate and full professors in STEM fields at four-year institutions. Data show that when diverse faculty members teach underrepresented students, these students achieve at significantly higher rates, shrinking achievement gaps in those classes by 20 to 50 percent.”