JEDI in our Graduate Program

ADMISSIONS

We recognize that students from nondominant groups often face systemic barriers, inequities, and discrimination during admissions processes. We are committed to providing an admissions process that reduces the risk of bias impacting admissions decisions, provides each prospective student with the opportunity to put their best foot forward, and contributes to building a professional learning community of individuals who value JEDI as a critical personal and professional mindset.

 

  • We provide prospective students with interview questions prior to their application interview. Our view is that the speed of a response is not indicative of future success and that for some people, the interview format causes discomfort, preventing their best selves from showing up. We want to give students the opportunity to put their best foot forward, rather than creating a “gotcha” moment.
  • Our admissions process gathers information about student dispositions and growth mindset, which we feel are important indicators of future success.
  • A JEDI mindset is included as a requirement for applicants and specific questions address this during an applicant’s interview. While we’re interested in an applicant’s past JEDI experience, what we find most important is an applicant’s desire, willingness, and openness to JEDI as an important personal journey and critical piece of preparing oneself as an educator.
  • We appreciate the diversity with which people express themselves and invite applicants to choose any format that best reflects them in their application responses, including visual comic, painting, drawing with descriptive caption, recording of song or story, video essay, written narrative or a blog entry.
  • During interviews, we actively recognize and name the power dynamics in the admissions process, including our admissions committee’s status as gatekeepers, as well as the important power the applicant holds in determining whether our program is the right fit for them.
  • We have eliminated the use of an application fee for the program, and have attempted to align our admissions process with the University of Washington’s as much as possible to avoid redundancies.
  • We have adapted many of the guidelines laid out in The Avarna Group’s Toolkit to Mitigate Bias in Recruitment & Hiring to inform our own admissions process.

STIPENDS & SCHOLARSHIPS

We know that a graduate-level education can often be financially inaccessible to students, especially those from nondominant communities, who have been historically barred from accumulating wealth. We are committed to making the graduate program accessible to as many students as possible by offering scholarships and tuition discounts.

 

  • The immersive nature of our 10-month program is time intensive and can make it difficult for students to hold outside employment. As of the 2019-2020 cohort, we provide students with a monthly stipend to offset living expenses. The intention of the stipend is to help students focus as much as possible on their learning and less on how to cover basic living expenses.
  • We have standardized scholarship criteria for all applicants with a focus on meeting the needs of applicants from non-dominant groups that have historically been underrepresented in our field. We offer three different scholarship types:
    • The Robert P. Karr Scholarship awards $20,000 to five students each year. The award is open to BIPOC students, first-generation college students, and those who demonstrate financial need, prioritized in that order. This scholarship is new for students as of the 2021 – 2022 cohort.
    • Scholarships for candidates from underrepresented communities in the education field.
    • Scholarships for candidates demonstrating financial need.

ORIENTATION & APPLIED LEARNING

For all students to have the opportunity to flourish, we believe it’s important to center JEDI from the beginning of their time in the 10-month program. By establishing group norms, exploring place and identity, and developing shared educational frameworks, students are able to form a strong and equitable learning community.

 

  • As part of student orientation, students visit the Suquamish Museum, the Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial, and the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, as they are integral resources for understanding the historical and continued context of the land and waters on which the graduate program takes place.
  • We set and share non-verbal communication norms.
  • We introduce, discuss, and commit to practicing these equity leadership skills shared by Fleur Larsen throughout the duration of the program, as a baseline and guide for how to do this challenging and important work in relationship with one another. Fleur writes that “we engage with these skills in the context of power and privilege. Beyond platitudes and ‘nice attributes’, we get to truly grapple with how our dynamics in relationships and systems are based in oppression and hurt. Embodying these ten skills gives us a fighting chance at creating a liberated world.” (Equity leadership skills source.)
  • We spend time examining our identities, positionality, and defining associated terms so students have a shared framework and understanding of these principles.
  • We discuss and differentiate cultural encounters from cultural appropriation.
  • We spend time analyzing children’s books for bias.
Graduate student Benay O'Connell with an evergreen huckleberry
IslandWood graduate student Kelvin Washington smiles for the camera with three of his fellow graduate students.

ACADEMICS

We believe that educational justice and environmental justice are central to our program’s mission to prepare environmental educators to create a more equitable and sustainable future. Therefore, each of our courses are taught with a JEDI lens that foregrounds student identity, highlights nondominant voices, and honors multiple ways of knowing.

 

  • We incorporate critical race scholars and non-dominant voices from the field of justice-oriented science pedagogy and research.
  • We include a culturally responsive teaching approach in the Science Methods & Advanced Instructional Strategies course.
  • We including Indigenous ways of knowing in the Garden Integration and Natural History & Ecology courses.
  • We share positionality statements for all faculty and applied learning instructors. [Positionality is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world.]
  • Students learn about and discuss intersectional identities and positionality during their ongoing work to craft a philosophy of education statement as part of their Social, Cultural and Historical Foundations of Education course.

IN STUDENT PRACTICUM

Because we work with 4th – 6th graders in the School Overnight Program that reflect the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the region, it is necessary to provide an educational experience that is equitable and culturally sustaining, so that all students can thrive.

 

  • Debriefing and discussing incidents of discrimination is a regular practice.
  • JEDI is explicitly included in the professional growth plans developed by students and their mentors.
Graduate student Morgan Malley instructing School Overnight Program students in the forest.

RACIAL AFFINITY GROUP CAUCUSING

We believe that racial affinity caucus groups are important spaces to share experiences, build connection, and advance justice. And, as noted on the Racial Equity Tools website, “to advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together.” Racial affinity groups provide space for this separate work, while building a foundation for collective action. For more information about the purpose of racial affinity caucusing to advance justice, click here.

 

  • New as of the 2020 – 2021 cohort, and in response to our grad students, we created race-based caucus groups on campus for both staff and graduate students, recognizing that how students engage with JEDI will be reflective of their identities and lived experiences.

GROWTH AREAS

We recognize that the work of developing a JEDI mindset is a life-long process of learning and growth. As we continually evolve our understanding, we believe it is important to recognize areas of improvement and change.

 

  • While we strive to be as inclusive as possible, we’ve recognized a need to gain more knowledge and experience incorporating physical accessibility as part of the student application and intake process. We have begun to address this through conversations between our admissions and facilities teams to make sure we are asking for the information necessary to make accommodations as soon as possible for students to allow them to participate fully in our program. Next steps include reaching out to past and current students and creating protocols that involve students in a collaborative planning and improvement process.
  • In the past, we overrepresented and tokenized BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) graduate students in our marketing materials. Although our intention was to recruit more BIPOC students as we work to diversify the field of environmental education, our marketing wasn’t an accurate representation of the program. Through student feedback, we realized our actions were harmful in that we weren’t presenting a truthful representation of the actual racial demographics of students in the program and we were tokenizing the few students of color to try to achieve our desired outcome. We took that learning to heart and have since worked to accurately reflect the program’s racial demographics and objectives. 
An IslandWood graduate student, in the Graduate Program in Environmental Education & Equity,s sits in a circle with students in the School Overnight Program. Behind them is the suspension bridge

STAFF JEDI DEVELOPMENT

We strongly believe that centering JEDI, both personally and professionally, requires life-long learning. We are committed to providing opportunities for JEDI development, as well as the time and resources necessary for staff to pursue opportunities independently.

 

In addition to organization-wide JEDI trainings and external workshops, members of the team have been participating in internal racial equity meetings aimed at growing their capacities as anti-racist educators. During the school year, our education team comes together for Building Antiracist White Educators sessions alternating weeks with a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) affinity group and a white caucus group.