COSM Diversity & Inclusion News

August 2020

Welcome to Fall 2020!

We are excited to present the first Diversity & Inclusion newsletter for Georgia Southern’s College of Science and Mathematics! Each newsletter will include the monthly quote and facts to get you thinking, regular spotlights on COSM individuals who exemplify D&I at Georgia Southern, and information on D&I news, events, grants, and scholarships. Additionally, each newsletter will focus on a particular theme of Diversity & Inclusion that is directly related to your roles as COSM faculty and staff at Georgia Southern University.

This Month’s Theme: Why is it important for departments to work on diversity & inclusion?

The newsletter will be delivered via email monthly during Fall & Spring semester and will always be available on the new COSM D&I webpage. Send contributions and suggestions to any of the COSM D&I Ambassadors (list at the bottom of the newsletter and on the webpage).

Diversity Quote of the Month

"If you aren't aware of how biases operate, if you aren't collecting data and taking a little time to produce evidence-based processes, you will continue to blindly perpetuate old injustices."  - Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

"If you aren't aware of how biases operate, if you aren't collecting data and taking a little time to produce evidence-based processes, you will continue to blindly perpetuate old injustices."

- Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Fact Fuel for Data-driven Conversations

Fact: 28% of COSM’s students are black, compared to only 5% of our faculty.

9% of COSM’s students are latinx, yet only 2% of our faculty are.

Bar graph titled" COSM Student and Faculty Demographics Fall 2019. Major trends: More white faculty than students. More black students than faculty. More Latinx students than faculty. More Asian faculty than students.

COSM Community D&I Spotlight

Georgia Southern M.S. biology student Corina Newsome started a phenomenon in #BlackBirdersWeek this May! Their efforts have sparked testimonials from around the globe, all highlighting the difficulties of being black and...simply trying to enjoy the outdoors. Her interview with Science Magazine is insightful, as are the thousands of twitter posts on the topic. Kudos to Corina!

D&I Campus Connections and Opportunities

Upcoming Webinars

University Opportunities

External Opportunities

Try This! - Teaching Tips

“You may wonder: Is the role of a college instructor to help students feel included and ready to thrive? Is that something I should be doing? As champions of inclusive teaching, we say — emphatically — yes.” The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights two main areas in which you can be more inclusive in your teaching — classroom interactions and course design - and gives quick, practical, suggestions for interacting more inclusively with students.

Consider the value of connecting with your students personally (even with name tents, for the name-blind such as myself!), sharing personal pronouns to model inclusion for LGBTQIA students, and acknowledging hard times that may be affecting you or your students. These personal touches are not arbitrary or a waste of time - they set the tone for your interactions with students throughout the entire course. Read the full article for more details.

Ever wanted to make a lightboard video for a particularly dynamic lecture topic?

The Center for Teaching and Learning has the tools and expertise for you to do so in their studio on campus. Lightboard videos combine many of the benefits of other video styles, such as a picture-in-picture lecture, working on the whiteboard, and interaction with your students.

This Month's Theme: Why is it important for departments to work on diversity & inclusion?

Humans do the work and keep things going

Today’s world is a shifting tapestry of new technology, social unrest, and changing expectations, but one thing will never change: We are humans. Whether you are teaching online, at the gym, in a classroom, or half-submerged in marsh mud, your ability to communicate with people in all their great diversity remains key to a healthy, functional workplace. The ability to adapt and empathize will never truly be deemed “non-essential.” Stressed, unhappy people are always less productive in the long run.

“Human imagination and ingenuity will be the source of human work ad infinitum.”

The World Economic Forum emphasizes the importance of technology for us and the students we serve, while calling out several “soft” skills that remain important. These are skills that we can cultivate in ourselves and our students while learning to value and support others who have skill sets different from our own. Our ability to adapt and communicate (social skills) will allow us to explore the technologies emerging throughout our world, and choosing those that will serve many people, not just the elite few. Education, safety, and health are the rights of all people, and it is our responsibility to expand upon this truth here at Georgia Southern.

"People. Purpose. Action. Growing ourselves to grow others. -The Georgia Southern Strategic Plan." Fingerprints in Georgia Southern's colors are the background.
Perceptions of GSU

Are you proud of the place where you work? Do our students feel confident that we support them, both as people and as budding scientists? Why do your colleagues in underrepresented minorities leave?

These are questions that the COSM D&I committee and many of you consider on a regular basis, but we don’t always discuss the issues openly. They’re questions Georgia Southern considers when events at the university start appearing in the news. The answers are what we - the people of Georgia Southern - can work to change.

Whether the differences based on race, gender, sexual orientation, personality, or campus, “discriminatory practices, racism, macro-invalidation and inequity are repeated reasons why marginalized faculty and staff leave their departments” (Inside HigherEd). The truth is that people often feel that they are only conditionally accepted in their workplace. They feel that they lack allies among their more privileged (privileged for whatever reason) colleagues. They feel that their institutions don’t support them.

Underrepresented minorities have become the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

Students looking for schools (and future jobs) want to know that they - with all of their associated identifiers - can be successful. They tell us again and again that constantly being shown experts who don’t look and sound like them is discouraging and makes them less likely to reach out, speak up, and thrive. When 28% and 9% of COSM’s students are black and latinx, yet only 5% and 2% of our faculty identify as the same races, respectively, what does this show our students?

With each student who says “none of my professors look like me,” each faculty member who says “I left because the environment is hostile,” each staff member who says “no one here cares about me,” universities, businesses, and politicians are finally taking notice of all of the ‘dead canaries’ on the doorstep, destroying their reputations.

Each one of us can contribute to improving the perception - and actual conditions - of Georgia Southern University by recognizing bias within ourselves, supporting our colleagues, and holding our leaders accountable for their decisions. Reading this newsletter is an excellent first step. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Reflective Moment

Can you step back and empathize with a student caring for an elderly relative while working and enrolled full time?

Does your community at work facilitate communication between coworkers with varied backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences?

Consider these questions as you watch the colorful (but pointed) Pixar short "Purl" about the effect of an office lacking in diversity and empathy.

Purl | Pixar SparkShorts

Something you'd like to see? We'd love to hear from you.

Brigette, Karelle, and Ryan lead the COSM Diversity & Inclusion webpage & newsletter team. They’d love to hear from you, and you can also contact any of your COSM D&I Ambassadors if you would like to contribute to or comment on the newsletter - or discuss other D&I issues. The webpage also includes information on becoming an ambassador yourself.

COSM Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Leaders

  • Arpita Saha - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Brandon Quillian - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Karelle Aiken - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Sabrina Hessinger - Mathematics


  • Amanda Klingel

  • Brian Koehler

  • Issac Taylor


  • Brigette Brinton

  • Geneva DeMars

  • Jennifer Brofft-Bailey

  • Johanne Lewis

  • Justin Montemarano

  • Marylou Machingura

  • Sara Gremillion

  • Sue Ellen Dechenne-Peters

Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Arpita Saha

  • Brandon Quillian

  • Brent Feske

  • Debanjana Ghosh

  • Karelle Aiken

  • Ryan Groom

  • Shainaz Landge

Geology & Geography

  • Jim Reichard

  • Kathlyn Smith


  • Duc Van Huynh

  • Eryn Stehr

  • Jim Brawner

  • Kyle Bradford

  • Sabrina Hessinger

  • Stephanie Wiggins

  • Tuyin An

Physics & Astronomy

  • Hua-Jian Jason Liu