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Cal State LA awarded $1 million grant to improve inclusion and diversity of students in sciences

June 19, 2018
A lab work using a pipet.

Cal State LA awarded $1 million grant to improve inclusion and diversity of students in sciences

June 19, 2018
A lab work using a pipet.

California State University, Los Angeles received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to train faculty to better engage with students from all backgrounds who study science.

The grant will establish the Science Faculty for Inclusive Excellence and Transformation project at Cal State LA to support students from historically underrepresented communities, students who are the first in their families to attend college and students who are working adults with families.

The institute has developed an assessment component that will help build faculty collaboration to support student success. By transforming faculty, the project will also transform the learning environment for a broad mix of students who enrich the sciences with their diverse perspectives.

Cal State LA is ranked number one in the nation for the upward mobility of its students. The overarching goal of this project is to lower and eventually eliminate the achievement gap between students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

“We anticipate that at the end of five years of implementing this project, we will have a community of transformed faculty and transformed students who work collaboratively to achieve academic excellence for all students in the sciences,” said Andre Ellis, the grant’s principal investigator and Cal State LA professor of geosciences and environment.

The project will help the university create an equity-focused professional development program for faculty and foster student success through an initiative called Science Campus Activities for Fostering Engagement.

The project will train 74 faculty who have the capacity and leadership to change pedagogy, curriculum and programs, and influence academic policy.

To ensure that changes are sustained beyond the grant term, the university’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning and Charter College of Education will institutionalize the faculty training program.

“This project will foster a transformative and innovative educational experience for Cal State LA students and promote an equity-minded approach to pedagogy based on an appreciation of our students’ diverse backgrounds,” said Pamela Scott-Johnson, dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences.

Cal State LA is among 57 colleges and universities across the nation awarded grants by the HHMI. Under the grant, which runs for five years, Cal State LA will collaborate with the University of Southern California Center for Urban Education.

“This initiative is about encouraging colleges and universities to change the way they do business—to become institutions with significantly greater capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those from nontraditional backgrounds,” HHMI President Erin O’Shea said.

Photo: A student works in a bioscience laboratory at Cal State LA. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)