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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Current Conditions and Best Practices across the National Sea Grant Network
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    The National Sea Grant College Program is a network of 33 programs that work on coastal, marine, and Great Lakes research, extension, and education efforts to serve the unique coastal communities in their states. Diversity and inclusion were first recognized as "cross-cutting principles" in the 2018-2021 Sea Grant Strategic Plan. Depending on state priorities, Sea Grant programs address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with distinct approaches ranging from informal to formal efforts and strategies. In 2016, a Sea Grant Community of Practice (CoP) on Inclusion and Diversity (SGID) was formed to conduct a systematic analysis and application of DEI principles across the network. As a result, a 10-year network visioning effort, "Looking Outward and Reaching Inward: Building Sea Grant Resilience from the Lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," was initiated to help Sea Grant reach broader audiences by embracing and adopting best practices regarding DEI. Sea Grant program personnel are defining their roles in advancing DEI, reviewing current conditions, and building awareness of best practices across the network. The SGID CoP has representation from all 33 Sea Grant programs, as well as the National Sea Grant Office and Sea Grant Advisory Board. The CoP’s vision is that Sea Grant empowers coastal communities to be resilient in the face of change. To that end, Sea Grant must implement initiatives to embrace DEI to proactively engage, reflect, and serve the diverse populations of coastal communities. The CoP envisions Sea Grant as a champion of DEI principles in which all coastal community members are respected and valued. The CoP defines DEI as core values or principles for Sea Grant in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In other words, "Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party. Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist. Inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance." (- Robert Sellers, Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan). We live in a world where diverse perspectives may conflict with one another, yet be simultaneously valid. Some communities have easy access to decision makers, while others struggle to have their voices heard. To better communicate complex scientific data and create actionable outcomes, Sea Grant must hone its strategies to include diverse audiences, and these strategies must be tested and evaluated. The primary focus of this paper is on specific DEI topic areas that feature case studies submitted by Sea Grant programs. These case studies outline best practices for applying DEI principles across the Sea Grant network. DEI topic areas include: ● Research: Broadening Participation and Building Capacity ● Extension: Equitably Serving our Coastal Communities ● Education: Inclusive Pre-K - 12th Grade Programming ● Communications: Reaching an Array of Audiences ● University Student Connections: Expanding the Next Generation Workforce ● Environmental Justice ● Professional Development ● Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce.
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