How do you Promote Diversity in Academia and STEM? Introspection.

Here’s a challenge: take some time every day and think about what’s important for you. But don’t just stop at the superficial: step outside the system. Think about how you would define importance, and where it comes from. What does value mean? How do you choose something as important over another? Go further and think about the way you create meaning for actions, challenges, problems, and whatever else lurks in the unexplored, overlooked compartments of your everyday experiences. Do some serious reflection on why you’re doing what you’re doing every day. Write down your thoughts somewhere, and read it to yourself every now and then.

Though I’ve written about the purpose of a college education, the way we derive value from our experiences, and the multitude of issues that a student, scientist, or philosopher might face in his/her routine, much of it stops at reality. My writing has been mostly speculation, criticism, appreciation of ideas, ideologies, and rhetoric, so it’s easy to see how it isn’t meant to be taken as practical, concrete content that one may easily apply to his/her life. It doesn’t tell you what should or shouldn’t be illegal, what you should eat for breakfast, or whom you should marry. Put it simply: theoretical analysis doesn’t have practical benefits.

But it does. And it might help us fight stereotypes.

On my mission to understand the value of a college education, I’ve spoken to several professors, scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and all the like in-between. One of my previous Philosophy Professors has written to me about how, while she was a student, she tremendously benefited when she made some room to reflect on the value she was getting from her education and how it fit into her life. And there is evidence that it may even fight stigma and stereotype, a hindrance to diversity and inclusion.

The issues associated with race, sex, and whatever other avenue there may that hinder our path to justice and equality are often seen as simply social issues. We like to think that changes in policy, agency, or law will solve our problems. But sometimes there are causes so deeply rooted within our psyche that they require a re-examination of the very ideas that we think everyday. They require a humanistic approach. 

Those who take the time to examine values, reason, and everything in-between are at well-acquainted with the human condition. Perhaps this example of introspection giving rise to a great deal of practical benefits to society is less of a discovery about the ways to increase diversity, but, rather, a statement about how what we often perceive as theoretical introspection and subjective speculation has much more value to ourselves than we realize. We need to realize that introspection is something that all human beings should do in order to “live in the moment.” Obtaining a deep understanding of why people do things, what do things mean, and who you are will affirm your own honor, allowing you to believe in yourself.

And, of course, we can bring the concept of diversity itself to the stage of these introspection. Diversity is not an issue that is as simple as carrying out data analysis with more people of color or giving presentations to both male and female principal investigators. Much deeper than the color of someone’s skin are ideas themselves. These ideas form the basis for who we are, and finding differences in ideas follows from what our own ideas are; we must first know what we believe before we can understand how the beliefs of others are different from ours. We form connections and relations among places we would ordinary see as differences. There is something remarkably beautiful how being exposed to ideas, thoughts, and messages that are different from ours makes a statement about how one learns about the world. What I mean is that diversity tells us who we are and who we aren’t. Because of this, diversity enables empathy, curiosity, and goodwill in all of us. And that’s important.

And we, bloggers, are more than just wonder-stricken fools gazing into the skies of a distant land. 

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  1. Ellien Obrain Avatar
    Ellien Obrain

    The personal statement is a critical component of your fellowship application. This article provides you with the tips you need for a stellar fellowship personal statement. See more how to write a diversity statement


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