Sustainable Campus Completes Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion External Audit

Laurelin Haas
EDI Slide

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University’s (FSU) Sustainable Campus engaged the research services of an external auditor, Dionne Wilson, to examine its inclusion of diverse students in programming and communications. Wilson is a Ph.D. candidate in Science Education in the FSU College of Education.

Sustainable Campus strives towards intersectional environmentalism, which is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. Intersectional environmentalism acknowledges the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are connected.

Because Sustainable Campus aims to build a culture of environmental justice at FSU and beyond, the office was curious to understand why students of color, particularly Black or African American students, were underrepresented in Sustainable Campus events.

In Spring 2021, Sustainable Campus charged Wilson with providing Sustainable Campus with strategic guidance on increasing student diversity in student-led events by examining both programs and communications.

“My [dissertation] research draws on literature related to the science identity development of black youths in informal spaces,” said Wilson. “In particular, I aim to identify and analyze minoritized learners’ identity development. Thinking about my research goals, I saw alignment between [my dissertation] and the potential benefits of Sustainable Campus’ project.”

During the spring semester, Wilson conducted a survey, two focus groups, and multiple interviews. Wilson also completed a discourse analysis of Sustainable Campus social media (including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), the Sustainable Campus website, and the Sustainable Campus office.

Using this data and Dawson’s (2017) equity in STEM framework, Wilson produced an executive report, which provided an overview of the significant findings and recommendations. Specifically, Wilson found that students of color responded positively to events that de-centered whiteness and incorporated other people of color.

Recommendations to decenter whiteness included: 1) Centering the practices, epistemologies, interests, and speech of the historically marginalized; 2) Reaffirming an office culture built on unity, respect, and social justice; 3) Participating in antiracist, decolonizing, or dismantling professional development training; and 4) Ensuring long-term accountability through meetings and critical reflection.

As a result of Wilson’s external audit, Sustainable Campus has a better understanding of how to explicitly and consciously consider the decentering of whiteness in its communications, programming, office spaces, and social media platforms.