Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Psychology DEPartment COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, equity and Inclusion

The Department of Psychology at St. Olaf College commits itself to anti-racism, and to action to promote diversity, equity and inclusion based on ethnicity, race, gender, gender expression, or any element of a person’s identity.

The discipline of Psychology and its practitioners have an obligation to deeply consider the ways the human experience has not been equitable and inclusive for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of all identities, both historically and currently. We acknowledge the historical and current systemic barriers that create and perpetuate these inequalities. We commit to dismantling these barriers in our classrooms and curriculum, as an important step toward challenging these barriers more broadly on campus and in our society.

As a key part of this process, we are open to conversations, suggestions, critique, and complaints about the curriculum and other aspects we are responsible for, and will hold ourselves accountable to document and respond to these. Comments can be sent anonymously to Department Chair, Gary Muir <muir@stolaf.edu>, using the link here.

HIGHLIGHTING Psychology DEPartment FACULTY ACTIONS CURRENTLY AND FROM THE LAST TWO YEARS TO promote DIVERSITY, equity and Inclusion
  • The Psychology Department identified acting on issues of anti-racism as one of the major tasks of our department for 2020-21 in our departmental retreat prior to the semester starting, and in our August meetings. Individual faculty have been participating in anti-racist training, and we have been discussing events the whole department can engage in, some (such as a reading group) with the goal of bringing faculty and students in psychology together around this issue. In addition, each of us has renewed our commitment to identifying and enhancing ways our classes support equity and inclusion.

  • The department continues our grant-funded initiative, Diversify Psychology (which began in 2018 as a To Include is to Excel project), including reviewing our course offerings and updating course descriptions, syllabi, and class materials, so that our curriculum, teaching practices, and departmental culture are consistent with our goals of diversity, inclusivity, and equity.

  • Psychology faculty continue to serve in leadership roles on various committees/groups engaged in college work towards equity and inclusion. For example, Jeremy Loebach served on the Council on Equity and Inclusion and will continue to do so this year. Grace Cho served on the To Include is to Excel (TIITE) advisory group and will continue to do so this year. Gary Muir and Jess Petok have served on the Faculty Life Committee, which has been tasked with addressing issues brought forward by BIPOC faculty colleagues. Carlo Veltri is an associate on a TIITE project to curate anti-racist teaching resources for faculty across campus.

  • Our faculty continue to participate in a variety of diversity-related workshops and discussions organized by CILA, the Taylor Center, and TRIO McNair. For example, Jess Benson facilitated a Cultural Conversation on students’ experiences with stereotyping and discrimination, and Jeremy Loebach co-facilitated a disscussion on attending the Academics for Black Survival and Wellness series workshop this summer. Our faculty members serve as mentors and advisors to students from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. For example, nine of our current permanent faculty have worked with and mentored McNair scholars, and continue to do so. Our faculty have also supervised GSEF students and several students’ IS/IR/DUR projects on issues related to culture and diversity.

  • We have used our Olaf and Juta Millert Memorial Speaker Series to showcase influential work in psychology, with over a third highlighting researchers who have promoted our understanding of the complex role of culture and diversity in our beliefs, behaviors, and practices. For example, we were delighted to welcome Dr. Claude Steele (Stanford University) to our campus on Oct. 7-8, 2019. Dr. Steele is a prominent social psychologist, best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student achievement. In addition to an extremely well-attended talk on “Stereotype Threat and Identity Threat: The Science of a Diverse Community”, Dr. Steele met with students and faculty, as well as the Council on Equity and Inclusion and Taylor Center director and staff.

  • Our department continues to offer multiple courses that focus on diversity and culture. Some examples include Psych 220/Socioemotional Development in Cultural Context (Cho), Psych 254/Culture and Place in Psychology (McMillan), ID 271/Frontiers in Aging (Petok), and Psych 390/Social-Psychological Issues of Diversity (Benson). Moreover, Dana Gross has developed a new course Psych 232/Gender Equality in Norway to be offered Interim 2021 that will examine topics related to diversity and culture.