Physics Department Statement on Anti-Racism

To those within Middlebury and beyond, we convey our unwavering support of our Black students, friends and colleagues, and our ongoing commitment to the goals of equity, diversity and inclusion.  As we strive to fight structural racism within the broader physics community, we will work to make physics at Middlebury more inclusive of Black students and scientists, who are underrepresented in our discipline, and to address barriers that may exist due to the climate in our community.

To physics students in particular, please know that our efforts are ongoing and that our professional organizations are committed to these principles as well. Over the next year, we will be in touch with you as we work on three broad goals.

  1. Maintain and strengthen the sense of community in the physics department.  Tea-time, book clubs, and research seminars bring us together and build our sense of community. We are currently working on ideas for augmenting and reinforcing students’ sense of belonging in the physics department.
  2. Assess the learning pipeline and climate.  In order to encourage and cultivate a more diverse student body, we need a better understanding of where we are most likely losing students in the physics pipeline and why. This summer, we will examine assessment tools created by our professional organizations for introductory physics courses and discuss how to foster anti-racist learning spaces. We will also work on mechanisms to better assess the department climate in an ongoing way. In particular, we will create multiple avenues for students to convey ideas to us – approaches that are nonintrusive to the student while providing useful insights for the faculty.
  3. Map out a plan.  Earlier this year, the American Institute of Physics released the TEAM-UP report (TEAM-UP: Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy). A committee within the department will read and discuss the report throughout the summer so that we can submit action items for the full department to consider during the upcoming academic year. We will report back to the broader Middlebury physics community next summer on a plan of action, highlighting steps we have taken this year and steps we will introduce in upcoming years.

We are convinced that physics will flourish only when each student’s potential is recognized and supported and when we all feel welcome to bring our full selves to the table. 

Susan Watson (Chair), Michael Durst, Angus Findlay, Eilat Glikman, Anne Goodsell, Noah Graham, Chris Herdman, Paul Hess, and Stephen Ratcliff


Resources and statements from professional organizations

TEAM-UP Report

American Physical Society Leadership Letter Condemning Racism

American Astronomical Society President’s Statement in Support of Black Americans

Department of Physics

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