NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Re-Imagining STEM Equity Utilizing Postdoctoral Pathways

Improving models for enhanced recruitment, engagement, and transition to faculty roles for minoritized postdoctoral scholars is critical to address their significant and disproportionate departure from academic career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. While some institutional approaches have produced modest, localized results, collaborative approaches across networks of institutions and established state university systems could be leveraged to address this challenge.

The NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Re-Imagining STEM Equity Utilizing Postdoc Pathways (RISE UPP) aims to increase the number of minoritized faculty in STEM by focusing on four areas of evidence-based interventions:
1) facilitating a formal assessment of departments, institutions, and systems and promoting inclusive policies, programs and practices that are undergirded by more equitable norms and expectations;
2) creating pathways, through policy and practice, that facilitate recruitment and conversion of minoritized postdocs into tenure-track positions within and across participating university systems;
3) developing minoritized postdoctoral scholars by providing training, professional development, and community with other scholars across their university system and the RISE UPP Alliance network; and
4) supporting mentors of minoritized postdocs and junior faculty by providing training, compensation, recognition, and advocacy.

RISE UPP’s goals align with the vision of NSF INCLUDES to innovate and facilitate collaborative approaches to broaden participation and leadership in STEM. The Alliance will collaborate with and build upon the work of the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance to diversify faculty and improve institutional cultures, maintaining a unique focus on the postdoctoral scholar career stage and the structural changes needed within and across state university systems to facilitate racial equity in the professoriate.

RISE UPP leverages the work of two state university systems that have developed and implemented inter-institutional approaches to diversify faculty through postdoctoral recruitment, training, and transition into faculty positions – the University System of Maryland’s NSF AGEP PROMISE Academy Alliance and the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. These systems will act together as Core Model Partners and will provide support to three additional state university systems that will adapt these models as Scaling Partners: the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System, and the University of North Carolina System. The RISE UPP Alliance will help Scaling Partners act as a system to facilitate the more equitable and inclusive recruitment, development and subsequent hiring of minoritized postdoctoral scholars into tenure-track positions at R1, R2, and teaching-intensive institutions within participating state university systems. The Alliance will contribute to the body of knowledge in broadening participation research by examining how collaborations within and across multiple state systems may interact to shape efforts at organizational diversification and transformational change needed in STEM fields. The five elements of collaborative infrastructure will guide this multi-institutional, multi-dimensional project to forge novel partnerships and accelerate change. The National Association of System Heads (NASH) will serve as the backbone organization for RISE UPP, having served as a forum for discussion, dissemination, and action-oriented change efforts among state university systems for decades. The National Postdoctoral Association will also serve as an amplifying partner, and will assist in recruitment, production of resources, including a toolkit, and dissemination across the NSF INCLUDES National Network. By investing effort into building tools to help other institutions and systems implement and scale successful approaches, RISE UPP can contribute to a STEM professoriate that reflects the population of the Nation and reduce the barriers to broad implementation of effective approaches.

This project is funded by NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES), a comprehensive national initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in discoveries and innovations by focusing on diversity, inclusion and broadening participation in STEM at scale. The Alliance is co-funded by NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, which supports institutional change to advance African American, Hispanic American, Native American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Native Pacific Islander STEM doctoral candidates, postdoctoral research scholars and faculty toward tenure and promotion in academic institutions.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Investigator: Jennifer King Rice

8/15/2022 - 7/31/2023

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