An update on CLAS DEI initiatives

Take a moment to review some of the DEI initiatives happening in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

Schaeffer Hall landscape photo on front side


The CLAS DEI Committee is taking the 2022-23 academic year to review the DEI Action Plan to ensure it is aligned with the CLAS Strategic Plan for 2021-2026. The college's DEI Committee is leading the college with three working groups to focus on key initiatives: best practices for equity audits, a DEI instructor’s toolkit, and mentoring in the college. 


Departmental DEI committees

The CLAS DEI Committee evaluated resources for best practices for departmental DEI committees. This year, Director Liz Mendez-Shannon will lead the college in creating a unified network of DEI committees across the college to increase the impact of departmental efforts. 

DEI student work group

The CLAS DEI Committee has worked in partnership with a student advisory committee the last two years. Under the vision and direction of Liz Mendez-Shannon, the college is reshaping this committee into the CLAS DEI Student Work Group to empower student leaders to drive change and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within our college. The group will provide students with an outstanding opportunity to develop leadership skills, build community, promote student voices and perspectives, expand their peer network, and interact with collegiate DEI leaders by co-creating an inclusive community. Work will begin in spring 2023. 


Funded projects 2022-23: DEI strategic initiatives  

School of Art and Art History
The Institute for Excellence and Impact in the Visual Arts

  • Fall 2022Universal Energy is an exhibit of 25 works by alum Ana Mendieta. All the works in this exhibit are from Iowa and were made when the artist lived in Iowa City. The school screened five films from the same artist. The event celebrated the dedication of the Ana Mendieta Art Gallery at VAB, Ana Mendieta's birthday, and an introduction by filmmaker Raquel Mendieta. More than 200 people attended. Chilean Photographer Rodrigo Valenzuela, head of Photo UCLA, presented his work and met with graduate students. His lecture was in ABW. 

  • Spring 2023: In February, performance artist Cassils will present their work and meet with graduate students. Also, in February, printmaker Marina Ramos Ortiz will present her work and meet with graduate students. The school will pursue funding for an Ana Mendieta Symposium planned for fall 2024.

Geographical and Sustainability Sciences and Sociology and Criminology
Advancing Environmental Justice at Iowa

The 2022 Advancing Environmental Justice at Iowa announcement was distributed to all CLAS DEOs on Nov. 15, 2021, requesting proposals for:

  • A speaker series
  • Course development
  • Undergraduate or community engaged environmental justice research
  • Basic and use-inspired environmental justice research  

The initial due date was Feb. 1 and was extended to March 1. By the due date, one proposal for research and one for a speaker series was received. The AEJ Proposal Review Panel recommended funding the research proposal “Greening cities equitably to support academic success: Identifying how and why relationships between urban vegetation and academic performance vary with social and environmental context.” The panel determined that the speaker series proposal did not sufficiently address program objectives. A final call was distributed on May 11 with a July 7 due date. One research proposal was received. The AEJ Proposal Review Panel AEJ Proposal Review Panel recommended funding “Environmental justice and policy translation in an Indian alternative agriculture Movement.” The remaining funds were returned to CLAS. 

Political Science and Sociology and Criminology
Supporting Under-Represented Minority CLAS Undergraduates: Law School and Research Opportunities

The Law School Readiness Program has 49 URM students actively engaged in the fall 2022 semester. Students range from sophomores to seniors preparing law school applications. Students enroll in POLI:3710 Law School Readiness Seminar, in which students explore: the basics of the law school admissions process, academic preparedness for law school, law school curriculum, diversity in law school and the legal profession, ABA standards of professionalism, financial considerations and resources, legal careers, and wellness. Students also receive one-on-one advising from Martha Kirby. The approach is developmental, focused on using the undergraduate years to prepare for application to and success in law school.   

The Research Opportunity Program has provided around 10 URM students this fall semester with a paid opportunity to do research with faculty in an individual or lab setting. This has included research on civil wars, peace negotiations, and water crises in the U.S. These students also have the opportunity to work on written projects relevant to their future career interests.   

School of Social Work
Increasing BIPOC Student Inclusion and Belonging in the School of Social Work through Anti-Racist and Trauma-Informed Strategies

This grant has supported a two-year intensive professional development process with a Multicultural Initiatives consulting group to provide targeted skill development and case consultation to School of Social Work faculty to navigate difficult conversations in the classroom and adapt classroom practices to be more inclusive and supportive. The school has also sponsored a series of professional development workshops in 2022 for instruction faculty and teaching assistants across campus on inclusive and anti-racist teaching strategies and the role of positionality in leadership. This grant has supported the development of six case studies with reflective prompts and an ICON toolkit that can be shared with other CLAS departments to use for individual or departmental professional development activities. The school is adapting an ADEI organizational audit tool for evaluating equity and inclusivity in curricular content, classroom environments, and organizational culture. 

World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Supporting Undergraduate Education in Translation

The BA in Translation has been launched, and beginning August 22, 2022, students were able to declare the major. Courses in “Modes and Approaches,” “Translating Style,” and “Text Analysis,” as well as language-specific translation courses in Arabic and Korean, have been created and will be offered in spring 2023 and fall 2023. Speakers in the Colloquium Series and instructors in the Translators in Residence Program have enriched the student experience. Outreach efforts are underway to recruit students already at Iowa who might profitably choose a Translation major as a complement to their current program of study and to recruit new students to Iowa to engage in translation studies and prepare themselves for translation-related careers.  

Grants with DEI

CLAS offers a rich array of research and lab opportunities to students, graduate and undergraduate, including grants that involve a DEI component. In Computer Science, Octav Chipara and Elizabeth Kleiman have an REU NSF grant for Computing for Health and Well Being. Michaela Hoenicke Moore in History has a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities (Fellowship 2022/23) for The Varieties of Patriotism: Americans Debate Their Country's Role in the World from WWII to Vietnam. Additionally, CLAS is home to the Iowa Sciences Academy (ISA), funded in part by NSF and NIH grants. ISA is home to a range of programs that support the success of undergraduate students interested in research and scientific communication. 

DEI event or program funding available

CLAS is excited to offer funding awards for event programs, conferences and pilot initiatives that increase accessibility and education for diversity, equity, and inclusion. This award is open to all faculty, students and staff. The award can be up to $500. Requests will be reviewed within two weeks of submission during the academic year. The request form is available online. 


Salary equity audits

University HR conducts salary equity audits in each college for professional and staff classifications. The senior HR director evaluates those classifications that may exhibit statistically significant differences in average salaries based on sex and/or race/ ethnic minority status, independent of length of employment in the classification. This approach has been used to evaluate faculty salaries on a case-by-case basis at the department/collegiate level. More information is available on the HR website.   

Path to Distinction

CLAS HR has revised the Path to Distinction training to provide a framework for not only faculty searches but also staff searches. HR will focus on how to implement this training for staff moving forward this academic year and into the future. Training is now offered in person. If you have questions about this training for your search committee, please contact your HR representative.  

SEA Change

CLAS is continuing to participate in SEA Change, a national initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to effect sustainable change regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEMM at U.S. institutions of higher education. The Sea Change Core Team at Iowa is working hard to develop actionable and feasible strategies regarding improvement in DEI climate with respect to student recruitment and UI impact that can make a difference within a year or so. They are moving toward an inventory of all DEI-related activities on campus that can be used to connect relevant groups and hopefully increase efficiency.

TA training

Last year CLAS partnered with the Graduate College, International Programs, and the Center for Teaching to launch graduate student learning communities, providing peer support for international and BIPOC TAs on teaching at Iowa. The learning communities are graduate student-led and facilitated; current leaders include Joanne Constantin, Ramin Roshandel, and Sora Kim. The College encourages graduate students to be involved in these communities; email to join. 

Data evaluation

The college is continuing to evaluate the current state of representation of gender and race/ethnicity within governance committees as well as job classifications.