JEDI in our Graduate Program


We recognize that students from marginalized communities 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.
  • We have a holistic admissions process that gathers information about each applicant’s background, disposition, and growth mindset, which we feel are important indicators of future success. By centering our admissions process around set deadlines aligned with the University of Washington, rather than our previous rolling admissions process, we aim to create opportunities to get a sense of the applicant pool as a community, rather than piecemeal as applications come in. Relatedly, by having our scholarship process determined by set criteria, we aim to apportion scholarships equitably rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Both choices aim to move away from a process of admissions and funding that tends to privilege applicants from positions of more relative power and privilege and towards one that pursues justice and equity as best practices within the field.
  • 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.


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.


  • IslandWood offers both equality and equity based financial aid. Equality-based financial aid is found in the monthly stipend, with the intention of offering every graduate student financial support to help them focus as much as possible on their learning and less on how to cover basic living expenses.
  • IslandWood’s equity based financial aid comes via IslandWood Scholarships which are offered to candidates demonstrating financial need and to candidates from underrepresented communities in the education field.
  • 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.
    • Scholarships for candidates from underrepresented communities in the education field.
    • Scholarships for candidates demonstrating financial need.


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.


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 foreground a culturally responsive teaching approach in all our coursework and practicum. Faculty work closely with graduate students to scaffold expertise in JEDI-oriented, culturally responsive science and environmental education, as well as in developing their own positionality statement and teaching philosophy that then acts as a thru-line for their coursework and professional development throughout the year.
  • We integrate decolonizing education strategies throughout our courses and practicum work. For example, in the Natural History and Ecology course we include a focus on the role of humans as a part of the natural world rather than apart from the natural world. For more information on the design of that course check out this blog post from Dr. Dé & Professor Lydia Geschiere.
  • 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.

Teaching Practicum

The graduate program is a praxis-oriented learning environment where theory and practice come together in a teaching practicum. A core element of the practicum for graduate students includes teaching the School Overnight Program (SOP) students about sustainability, environment, and community engagement with a JEDI orientation. Graduate students work closely with a mentor to deepen their reflective practice, a necessary component in the effective pursuit of justice.

Graduate student Morgan Malley instructing School Overnight Program students in the forest.


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. 


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.

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