Alec Gallimore, thanks for joining us today. I know that the College of Engineering has recently created a new strategic plan and that diversity equity and inclusion are a big part of that. Can you tell us a little bit about what you're most excited about in terms of the projects that you all are taking up? Yeah. There's a lot of things we're really excited about. We engage in strategic planning actually a number of years ago, about five years ago or so and we came up with a vision statement, mission statement, and set of values. One of the lines that I'm really pleased with in terms of our mission statement is the notion that we're in the business of creating intellectually curious and socially conscious minds. Right from the very beginning of our strategic planning exercise, we focus on the notion of creating people who want to contribute to the common good. More recently we've adopted this notion which we call equity-centered engineering, which acknowledges that engineering is a people first endeavor. My definition of engineering in fact is to harness our understanding of the workings of nature to create technologies, processes that improve the human condition for everyone. What we're trying to do is we're trying to actually create through activities which we call community teams away for all members of the Michigan Engineering community. That means not just our learners or undergraduates, grad students, and postdocs, but our faculty members, our staff members, and even our lawns and friends of the College of Engineering to participate in this education if you will going forward of what it means to be an equitable engineer. That's awesome. You've talked about two key themes there. One is educating engineers to be thinking in a socially conscious way, and one is also that the engineering that goes on at the school is conscious of the humans that you are engineering for. I'd love to dive just a little bit into the education component. What are some of the initiatives going on for undergraduate students in the College of Engineering that are socially justice focused or really thinking about equity first? Let me talk a little bit about things that we've been doing and then things that we're going to be doing this coming academic year. We've been engaging our undergraduate and graduate students in this notion of socially engaged design. In fact, we have a center called CSED, Center for Socially Engaged Design. The idea is the first things that we need to do as an engineer is to listen and work with the people we serve, community members, people who would benefit from the technology and also to accept the diversities incredibly important in the design process as it is. Diversity not only in terms of the people's backgrounds, but also their technical fields, etc. All forms of diversity are critically important to have the most creative solutions. We've been engaging hundreds of our undergraduates at any given time, about 700 engineering undergraduates at any given time engage in CSED coursework. That can be modules, that could be actually experienced and learning opportunities where they're actually practicing engineering if you will, in a associate cautious way while they're students. We've also recently created this framework which we call immersed, which is hashtag practice your purpose. What it is it's a way for our students to think about what we believe are the core competencies needed for engineering education. Those of course include technical acumen of course, but they include things of empathy, they include the idea of equity being at the whole, and also humility so that our engineering students can learn the importance again of being servant leaders, if you know. Going forward though, and this started about a year ago, we challenged our community to go even one step further. What we did is we created five community teams. The five community teams are about, how do we increase the level of education we have throughout the College of Engineering in matters of diversity equity inclusion, but also in terms of bias, with an initial focus on anti-black racism? To go through those community teams very quickly the idea is that we would require, really in some respects, every single one of our undergraduates to have a meaningful exposure to through a curricular way matters associate with DEI, and equity, and justice. Through modules, some of which are being created by our center of socially engaged design that are going to be put into design courses and things of that nature. To even a three or four credit course, stand alone course that we're developing this coming years, that actually points to examples in which when equity was not taken into account in the design process and the engineering processes. Who were the winners, who were the losers, and how the gaps were actually widen between the haves and the have-nots, if you want. On the research side of things focusing on our graduate students, we have the framework called RCRS, Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship. This is training and traditionally it's been things of educating our students about plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarism and things like that, and to be good researchers. Now we're adding modules associated with diversity, equity, inclusion as part of that. Then on the faculty and also on the staff side of things for which we have over 1500 in college of engineering. It's a notion of annually educating our community. That could be by attending workshops, that could be by engaging in activities, but the point is every single year as part of their merit review process we will ask them, what have you done? Not only to contribute to DEI in the College of Engineering, but actually to enhance your understanding of DEI as educators, as member of the staff. That will frankly be part of the merit review process to the College of Engineering. That's really leading the way. I know many universities and colleges haven't dared tamper with merit review with respect to alternative requirements. That's fantastic. Engineering is historically known as a field where black engineers are underrepresented, women engineers are underrepresented. How is the college approaching diversifying the field itself? Part of what we're trying to do is to define what engineering is. I don't want to say redefine it, may be slightly redefine it, but certainly broaden the purview in which engineering is defined. A couple of things I'll point to in terms of successes that's helping us I think do that. First of all if you look at the leadership in the College of Engineering are associate deans, our chairs, our senior staff. But let's say the faculty leadership for now, associate deans and chairs, and even our executive committee. The majority of that crew are underrepresented minorities or women, the majority in the College of Engineering. We have seven department chairs in the College of Engineering are women, that's about a half. I don't know of any other college that has seven women department chairs. Many engineering colleges don't even have seven departments, let alone led by women. The point of all of that is because faculty governance is very important at the University of Michigan, and at the College of Engineering. This wasn't something that the dean did. This is something that the College of Engineering did. In some respects it was an illustration of how far our culture has come as a community. A lot of room for improvement, ways to go, that's why we're doing these communities. But the fact that our community elected as their leaders, so much diversity speaks to how much progress we've made in the College of Engineering. Now having said that, those leaders, those amazingly talented people are going to help to find what engineering is in a way that will be much more attractive to a broader swath of our community. We're seeing some of those dividends being played as it is. The incoming class that will start this fall or has started this fall depending on your perspective will be the largest and the most diverse that we've had in the history of the College of Engineering. We're not exactly sure why that is, but we think part of it is the act of messaging we've been delivering over the last four years in terms of thinking of Engineering as serving the common good and being people first. Congratulations. That's a huge accomplishment. I can imagine that for many students being able to see leaders like themselves inspires them to persist and see a future for themselves that they may not have seen otherwise. This course is about a socially just university. We've talked a fair bit about the College of Engineering. I'd love to hear just any thoughts you have on how universities and higher education in general might help create a more socially just world. When I think about the mission of the university, I have to start with education. Again going back to intellectually curious socially conscious mind, which is why that's part of our mission statement. We're in the business of educating, we're in the business of producing if you will, global thoughtful citizens, many of whom will be leaders, hopefully, servant leaders, if you will. When you think about it, let's focus on the undergraduate for now. College for the undergraduates is in many cases and for most of the undergraduates, not all, the most formative years of their young adulthood ship. In many respects they may come from very segregated communities where there's very little diversity and there's no guarantee where they will end up going, in terms of what those committees will look like, in terms of composition and even mindset. We have these very talented people who are trying to find themselves trying to find who they are, and what their place is on this planet. I think it's our duty to make sure that we open their minds as much we expose them too much opportunities to explore to develop, and we need to, in my opinion, make sure that when they leave they leave with ethics, they leave with an understanding of right or wrong, they leave for the ability to have intellectual conversations and discourse with people, including people they don't agree with, in a respectful way that's constructive. I think it's important that we also educate them so they understand why it's important to have ethics and justice because we have not always lived up to our values as a community, as a nation, as a globe, and we're not doing it now, let's be frank in many pockets. But that's the choice we make. I think it's important in competence as educators to make sure that we equip our students to hopefully make the world a better place as corny as that sounds. I love that idea. I love that vision. Thinking about the global and higher Ed professionals who'll be taking this course, what's one, maybe not every day, but one practical suggestion you could see staff, faculty, students taking to help create more socially just universities? Where did the community teams come from? After so much pain from last summer of 2020, Black Lives Matters movement, etc, the murder of George Floyd, I wrote a very personal message to my community, talking about my own experiences as well. Even a man of tremendous privilege, it doesn't make me immune to some of the injustices that people of color and frankly women experience as well, and marginalized people experience. What I said in that message to my community was that racism and other forms of bias are incredibly complicated and complex and they have their deep, they are historical reasons for them the way they are, and again even being a rocket scientist, I find these subjects and topics even more complex. As a community of scholars, when one is thinking about a topic that is important and complex, it begs the question then one needs to put in sweat equity. That is one needs to learn and study, and be educated on the subject matter. There are other things that I recommended we think about supporting organizations that are like-minded, voting, things of that nature. But when I started with this notion of education and by some extension dialogue because that's something all of us can do. I even gave a list of podcasts, books, and things of that nature. As you can see from the community teams that we talked about education, not training per se, there is some training elements, but we're really focused on education as the hallmark of what we're trying to do through our community team activities. Great. Thanks for mentioning that letter that you wrote to the community. Will be putting that within the course as an additional resource given how rich that letter was. Thank you so much Alec Gallimore for taking the time to chat with me and I know that your work in the College of Engineering is going to be inspiring to all of our learners in this course. Thank you Rachel, it's been a pleasure.