Diversity and the Environment Webinar Series

Environmental studies is an interdisciplinary and global field where diversity of backgrounds and approaches is essential for its evolution. The diversity webinar series will provide education on diversity in environmental studies and promote the participation of women, people of color, and other minority groups in the environmental field. We will highlight the barriers for minorities in the environmental field and strategies for improving diversity and inclusion in research, education, and practice.

This webinar series was presented March-June 2020

Race and the Environmental Movement: History and Legacies

Presenter slide deck

Resources shared by participants during the webinar

Thursday, June 4, 2020

This webinar explores some of the roots of the American conservation movement as they relate to white supremacy and patterns of discrimination and marginalization. The webinar explores four windows into looking at race and the environment  to reflect on how the history of the movement is affecting issues of justice and equity in mainstream environmental work today. These include the history of the conservation movement vis a vis white supremacy and communities of color, race and environmental concern, differential impacts by racial group, and organizational demographics in environmental organizations.


Sarika Tandon is an equity consultant who works at the intersection of race, equity and environmental issues.  She is the Curriculum Director of the Racial Equity Leadership Lab with the North America Cities Network of The Nature Conservancy. She is first generation Indian-American, from the suburbs of Rochester NY. Sarika holds a Master’s degree in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability from Antioch University New England’s Department of Environmental Studies, where she now teaches about justice, climate, and the environment as an Adjunct Faculty Member. Sarika  serves as an Advisory Board Member of the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, and the Montpelier Community Justice Center. She is the Co-Senior Editor of the North America Cities’ Field Guide to Conservation in Cities and the collaborative development of Whole Measures for Urban Conservation in her former role as a Program Director at Center for Whole Communities.

Racial Diversity in the U.S. Climate Movement

Presentation Slides

People of color are projected to become a majority of the U.S. population by 2043 but are grossly underrepresented in environmental organizations that work on climate change.  They are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and also express stronger interest than Whites in making climate change a priority for government action. Engaging these groups on climate change would have a huge impact on policies that advance climate solutions. Why is the climate movement lacking in diversity? What can organizations do to improve equity and inclusion in the climate movement? This webinar presents current data on diversity in the climate movement and the results of a mixed-method study with self-identified climate activists to understand their engagement on climate change, perceived barriers, as well as recommended strategies from experts on how to diversify the climate movement.


Clara Fang is a PhD student at Antioch University New England where her research is  on diversity, equity and inclusion in the climate change movement. She serves on the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences diversity committee and as higher education outreach director at Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonprofit organization that builds political will for climate solutions. Clara holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Utah. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.

Combating Incivility, Harassment, and Sexual Assault in Environmental Fields and Fieldwork

Presenter Slides

April 21, 2020

Increased attention on the pervasiveness of harassment and assault in the daily professional lives of women and men calls for open dialogue and institutional culture change, particularly around issues of gender-based discrimination and the role of power dynamics. Although the topic of harassment in the workplace is not new, what constitutes the ‘workplace’ for environmental professionals can present a unique set of challenges in terms of the spaces in which the work takes place and the various actors involved. Given that environmental work can occur in isolated settings and often hyper-masculine environments, it is surprising that the issue of harassment and sexual assault has not garnered more attention. However, harassment does not only occur in the field and can be experienced in various professional settings. The aim of this webinar is to acknowledge and better understand the presence of these issues in the fields of Environmental Studies and Sciences while discussing the role of professional societies and institutions of higher education in cultivating a safe working and learning environment. This webinar will be interactive and discuss resources available through the AdvanceGeo project.


Marisa Rinkus is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) at Michigan State University. Her work with C4I involves facilitating Toolbox Dialogue Initiative workshops and studying the impact of structured dialogue on cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration. Her research and teaching centers on how power and agency influence participation in natural resource conservation and the interrelationships of gender, race, and class in environmental issues. She was the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Brazil for her doctoral research and has published in Human Ecology, Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Wildlife, Water Policy, and Society & Natural Resources. She holds a PhD in Fisheries and Wildlife with a focus on Human Dimensions and specializations in Gender, Justice & Environmental Change and International Development. She is also a member of the AESS Diversity Committee and Chair of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Phase II Anti-Sexual Harassment and Violence Task Force.

Erika Marín-Spiotta is Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she leads the Biogeochemistry and Biogeography Lab. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award, a Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, and a Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring from the American Geophysical Union. She leads ADVANCEGeo, a program funded by the National Science Foundation to transform workplace climate in the geosciences and other scientific fields through the development of bystander intervention and research ethics training in partnership with professional societies.

Diversity in Higher Education: Creating Equity in Evaluation of Faculty 

Presentation slides

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Despite efforts to improve hiring practices to diversify the faculties of colleges and universities in the US, a lack of strong attention to retention practices may negate progress. At predominantly white institutions and in fields where faculty members are still mostly white and/or male, including Environmental Studies and Sciences, barriers to retention and promotion most strongly impact faculty whose identities do not match the ‘norm’ of a professor expected by students. Barriers include bias in teaching evaluations by students, the burden of hidden labor done to support diversity efforts on campus, and discrimination against research areas of high interest to faculty who are members of historically under-represented groups. In the webinar, she will present an overview of areas of bias in faculty evaluations that impact retention and promotion. She will summarize key findings drawn from the substantial peer-reviewed literature on biases in student evaluations of teaching.  During the webinar, she will discuss strategies to cope with and overcome barriers, with a goal of envisioning how to change structures in higher education to become more equitable.


Valerie Banschbach is the President-Elect of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, and an Associate Provost and the Dean of Sciences and Education at Gustavus Adolphus College, a private liberal arts college in St. Peter, Minnesota.  As part of fostering excellence, she works to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education serving on the President’s Council for DEI, the faculty DEI committee and the Bias Response Team at Gustavus. She is dedicated to advance her College’s equitable and inclusive faculty hiring and recruitment practices. In 2019, she earned an Outstanding Faculty Award for the state of Virginia from the State Council for Higher Education. Valerie was Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Roanoke College from 2014-2019. Prior to joining Roanoke College, she was Professor of Biology, Director of the Environmental Studies Program, and Chair of the Biology Department at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.

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