ESCI Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Aerial view of WWU, Bellingham, Bellingham Bay and beyond on a sunny day

The Environmental Sciences Department (ESCI) is committed to cultivating learning and working environments where people of all backgrounds and identities are welcomed and treated with equity and respect. We work in partnership with diverse communities, knowledge holders and decision makers to generate new knowledge that advances understanding of the environment through scientific inquiry, and apply knowledge to addressing environmental questions.

Statement of Values

In ESCI, we value diversity in all its forms, including race and ethnicity; gender identity, expression and sexual orientation; socio-economic and cultural background; religious beliefs; physical abilities; ages; nationalities; and life experiences. We celebrate the unique identities and perspectives in our community and continually strive to increase diversity and inclusivity in our department.

We remain mindful in our efforts of the entrenched dynamics, behaviors, and beliefs historically prevalent in STEM fields. We are committed to removing institutional barriers that impede inclusion of underrepresented groups. We recognize these barriers as a disservice both to the environmental sciences and to individuals from underrepresented groups who may feel discouraged from participating. We all can and should learn from each other’s unique perspectives. We are taking intentional, deliberate, and collective action to ensure a more inclusive atmosphere that is actively anti-racist, while striving to improve policies and procedures that reflect this ethos.

As our institution occupies homelands of Coast Salish peoples, we are committed to increasing representation and inclusion of Indigenous people in our programs. Furthermore, we acknowledge the history of exploitative colonial practices of resource and information extraction from Indigenous lands and peoples in our region and around the world and we seek to develop reciprocal relationships in knowledge co-production and application with all our partners.

We acknowledge the amount of work and care needed to live up to these shared values. This living document is a collection of our continued efforts and aspirations in building a department that celebrates our differences, welcomes all, and provides a positive, challenging learning environment. These values guide our department as we take stock of previous work, assess our current priorities, and plan new actions.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

In our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, we are committed to the following:

We continuously re-examine and revise our curriculum to ensure our teaching and learning efforts include diverse voices and ways of knowing. We acknowledge the history and continuing impacts of white/Eurocentric bias in STEM. We work affirmatively towards an inclusive and corrective curriculum. Our efforts include but are not limited to:

  • Inviting, recruiting, and supporting speakers, advisors, and mentors who represent the broader community;

  • Course readings that include more authors from underrepresented groups;

  • Including Indigenous knowledge in our curriculum with acknowledgement and Indigenous knowledge holder consent;

  • Working with historically marginalized groups and stakeholders to make our curriculum more inclusive;

  • Supporting faculty and students from underrepresented groups who participate in ESCI programs.

  • Including course options and accommodations that make our curriculum accessible to all.

We will adapt our support systems to better retain, advance, and address needs and interests of underrepresented faculty, staff, students, and administrators. Additionally, we will continue adapting our recruiting processes to increase representation in all roles in the department.

We value improving diversity in our community, and creating opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to build genuine community. We are doing this by getting to know each other as people, learning about the skills, experiences and passions that each person brings, and finding connections that will help us achieve our common goals.

We will increase awareness, discussion, and understanding of institutional barriers and work towards eliminating these barriers by:

  • Sustaining the ESCI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee;
  • Supporting faculty in building knowledge and competency in inclusive practices;
  • Collaborating with DEI groups in CENV and WWU;
  • Listening to and working with student groups;
  • Working to dismantle exclusionary obstacles, both those we recognize and those identified to us by others;
  • Developing and implementing strategies to support lower division students, who often experience exclusion before they enroll in our programs.

The department is committed to working with the College Diversity Recruitment and Retention specialist in addressing student concerns (contact Shalini Singh:

We encourage suggestions on how to advance our efforts regarding access, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you have thoughts on this topic, please contact the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.