Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive projects receive funding in new program

Small grants can have big impacts, and big impacts are the goal of the first round of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence Mini Grants recently announced by WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).Graphic logo with words CAHNRS For ALL: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion. The word ALL is centered and dominant, in block letters with over 20 mini logos inside. The logos represent aspects of college, including  paws, fruits, trees, bees, microscopes, and much more.

“I’ve learned that when you provide funding for DEI projects, they tend to have a large effect on a community,” said Luz Maria Gordillo, CAHNRS Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). “And not just the college or university community, but local communities around us.”

Three projects received $2,500 in funding during the first round of these grants from a group of nine applications. Originally, only two grants were to be funded but another was added when additional resources were secured. That third proposal also received matching funds from WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC).

The grants are meant to address one of the key themes of the CAHNRS strategic plan: Institutional Diversity, Integrity, Openness, and Accountability, to create and sustain a college community that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable; and to uphold a culture of integrity, excellence, stewardship, and accountability in pursuit of CAHNRS’s goals and economic viability.

Gordillo poses in front of a stock background featuring a Cosmic Crisp apple tree
Luz Maria Gordillo

“We’ll measure the impact of these grants and we plan for more grants to continue over the long-term,” Gordillo said. “They are a great platform for community development, research collaboration, plus engagement of different voices.”

Here are the abstracts for all three funded projects:

Developing Capacity for WSU Partnerships with Local Tribes to Initiate Projects that Merge Science and Indigenous Knowledge

In this collaborative project, proposer Laura Bartley, Associate Professor, Institute of Biological Chemistry, and collaborators Maren Friesen, Associate Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences and Plant Pathology, Tarah Sullivan, Associate Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences, and Affiliate Professor, Center for Native American Research and Collaboration (CNARC), and Ken Lokensgard, Co-Director, Center for Native American Research and Collaboration, (CNARC) take steps to transform the social and intellectual fabric of academia at WSU by creating a network among and between academic researchers and local tribes.

Their goal is to create a WSU-UI network with awareness of Indigenous Knowledge and tribal needs and enhanced capability to mentor and collaborate with Indigenous scholars, establish initial relationships and awareness of local tribe interests, and create a framework for developing proposals to support joint knowledge-generating and nation-building projects.

India Night

The Indian Students Association (ISA) will hold India Night, the biggest event in their portfolio. The event is planned for April 17, 2022 (tentative) and it is a superb confluence of cultures where there will be food, music, dance, and a glimpse of the rich and diverse Indian culture in the region. This celebration of Indian culture promotes diversity, equity, and inclusivity through opportunities and collaborations between different communities on and off campus, who organize and participate in the event.

The Indian Students Association has a deep personal and emotional connection that impacts not only the lives of our student community but also the communities around Pullman, Moscow, and Spokane. India Night offers music, art, and food that connects the audience through culinary and artistic traditions with Indian culture promoting cultural exchange and diversifying our learning communities.

Unity in Diversity: A Holistic Approach for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence at WSU Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center IAREC 

IAREC is a ‘mini cosmos’ where faculty, staff and students from diverse nationalities and ethnic backgrounds work together advancing research knowledge to solve complex agricultural challenges. We propose to expand CAHNRS DEI initiatives and activities at IAREC to advance a culture of inclusivity in professional activities and personal life to respect socio-cultural identity and understand distinct cultures, traditions, and value systems. This proposal aims to bridge the gap between IAREC and Prosser communities by hosting events at local venues for community building, engagement support, and empowerment.

The events will include training DEI courses for IAREC faculty, staff, and students, as well as a series of guest speakers that will address topics related to social justice, Native American Heritage, African American History, American Hispanic/Latinx history, and others to enrich knowledge and understanding of diverse cultures in a globalized world to achieve cultural understanding and enrichment at IAREC.

The CAHNRS Office of Research has partnered with the DEI Committee to fund this third proposal. IAREC is also partnering to match funds for this award.