Office of IDEAS director, professor and lecturer will lead online classes in program to help academic professionals better serve diverse classroom audiences

Office of IDEAS Director and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Julia Bernard has joined Dr. Sarah Gallant, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Dr. Page C. Spiess, a chemistry and biochemistry lecturer on a facilitator team for the Inclusive STEM Teaching Project, a six-week course to help education professionals cultivate inclusive science, technology, engineering and math learning environments.

The Inclusive STEM Teaching Project, developed by a team at Boston University; Northwestern University; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Des Moines Area Community College; the University of Utah; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and the University of Georgia aims to help faculty, postdoctoral students, graduate students and staff improve awareness and self-efficacy and to develop as reflective, inclusive practitioners.

Dr. Julia Bernard

The project’s sponsors include the National Science Foundation, the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the Division of Undergraduate Education.

Twenty-two U.S. higher-education institutions are joining Norwich University in contributing facilitators to the project.

On its website, the project says its courses, which cover social identity’s effect on learning; power, positionality and privilege; interruption of oppression and microaggressions; inclusive course design; and evidence-based teaching benefit humanities, law, medicine, social sciences professors; high school teachers; arts and administrators and faculty developers.

Twenty-two U.S. higher-education institutions are joining Norwich University in contributing facilitators to the project. Bernard, Spiess and Gallant will train as facilitators and then share new skills they learn in on-campus workshops to help all Norwich students thrive at STEM.

Dr. Sarah Gallant

“That is such great news,” Dr. Karen Hinkle, Norwich’s associate provost, research, wrote in an email congratulating the team. “What a great opportunity for our STEM fac\ulty and students who will be so fortunate to have (the) team’s guidance!”

From learning to teaching

As a recent profile in the Norwich Record attests, Bernard, who took her post last July, has written policies and procedures and conducted training to ensure compliance with titles VI and IX, federal statutes protecting sexual assault and discrimination victims and ensuring equal access to educational and athletic opportunities for all students, regardless of gender, physical disabilities, racial, ethnic or religious background.

Bernard has also fostered a campus environment in which every Norwich student feels welcome and empowered to do their best.

Dr. Page C. Spiess

Gallant in 2018 received the Karen E. Wetterhahn Graduate Chemistry Fellowship from Dartmouth College’s Chemistry Department and this year received a $25,000 Pilot Award from the Vermont Biomedical Research Network.

Spiess, who last fall won an ATHENA® Award from the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, has worked to help young women stay in STEM, creating and running the Rosie’s Girls STEM Leadership camps and the Women Can Do! conference at Vermont Technical College.

Spiess completed the Inclusive STEM Teaching Project curriculum in 2021; Gallant is completing the program now.

Norwich University President Mark Anarumo has set diversifying campus as a goal, and data reflect progress. More than 20% of Norwich University’s students are coming from underrepresented groups, 25% identify as female and the international students, scholars and exchange students count hit a record 131 in 2021-22, according to the annual Facts & Figures report.

“The preparation our students receive before coming to campus is varied, and our goal is to ensure their success from those very first foundational classes,” Norwich’s team wrote in a cover letter.

Norwich’s team called for campus visits from the program’s other facilitators.

“Interacting with affinity groups virtually has augmented the learning experience of this online program, but we have agreed that having facilitators on our campus would be a meaningful addition to the Inclusive STEM Teaching Project here at NU,” the team wrote.

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