Belonging at SML

 

A diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, origins, talents, and interests strengthens and deepens the SML experience. We are committed to supporting a diverse community and a strong sense of belonging for all. Belonging at SML is about fostering respect and appreciation for difference, having a shared purpose, and being a part of a community, while simultaneously being valued and appreciated for the uniqueness that each person brings. 

Shoals Marine Laboratory is located within N’dakinna, the traditional homelands of the Wabanaki People who have a historic and contemporary presence in this area. Their presence here precedes the establishment of Shoals Marine Laboratory, the state of Maine, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Indigenous displacement from their N'dakinna homeland and honor the ongoing connection of indigenous people past, present, and future to these lands and waters.

Anti-racist behaviors, principles, and actions are critical to meeting the mission of our organization and ensuring our community can thrive. We believe our work should begin with the core of our community - the SML staff. All staff members recently completed a three-month diversity and equity training program with New Hampshire Listens to deepen our understanding of institutional racism, unconscious bias, micro-aggression, allyship, and inequality in marine science, academia, and beyond.

This initiative included public forums where over 50 Shoalers joined in conversation with staff to discuss avenues for increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity at SML. The dynamic ideas that our community members brought forth are being used to help formulate a strategic plan that will sustain these efforts over the long haul. As we build this adaptive and living plan to address belonging at SML, we are committed to the following actions:

  • Continuing to educate ourselves about institutional and individual racism
  • Identifying safe modes of communication for reporting and discussing issues of discrimination and barriers to equity at SML
  • Improving recruitment communications for diversifying our programs and staff, including monthly meetings with the Shoals Alumni & Friends Association Recruitment Committee to identify key members of the Shoals community (faculty, alumni, partners, etc.) that can assist with broadening our recruitment efforts to larger, more diverse audiences 
  • Developing an undergraduate-level coastal environmental justice course that focuses on historical and present-day environmental inequities
  • Recruiting a diversity of guest speakers in future career panels and seminar series, as well as speakers with expertise in environmental injustice
  • Working with our home institutions to welcome and enhance participation of students of color and from diverse backgrounds in our research, teaching, and training programs
  • Understanding and identifying institutional policies and practices that create barriers and working to reduce them

We are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm our community has expressed in contributing to these efforts, and we are excited to continue this work together. If you have ideas or comments you would like to share on this work, please do not hesitate to contact us at shoals.lab@unh.edu

We are excited to announce the establishment of the Shoals Diversity Scholarship, made possible by the generosity of Jay and Suzanne McFarland in late 2020. This fund aims to build a stronger, more diverse community of undergraduate students studying at SML. 

Central to SML’s vision for the future is to enhance the diversity, equity, and inclusion of our programs by reducing the barriers for underrepresented students. This scholarship program is one of the many steps that will improve equal access to life-changing, experiential learning opportunities for an ever-growing Shoals community. To this end, SML encourages under-represented students to apply for this financial aid package. 

If you are interested in supporting these efforts and providing critical support to underrepresented students, we hope you will consider donating to this fund!  

Diversity is the color of the world and this should be reflected at the Shoals Marine Lab. We are thrilled to help the Shoals Marine Lab address diversity, equity, and inclusion through enrollment of a more diverse student body and bringing a world-class opportunity to these students in order to pursue their passions for the oceans and marine sciences.

- Jay and Suzanne McFarland 

SML staff have put together a set of guidelines for establishing community agreements that can help faculty members, research PI's, and group leaders manage relations among the people in their programs. This resource is meant to help foster an inclusive space where members of our community at all levels can safely express their feelings and perspectives.

Please note: this document outlines an approach that is specific to faculty members; however, this framework can be applied to SML research and public programs as well. 

We value your experience, perspectives, and opinions, therefore we have created a Bias Reporting and Feedback Form for Shoals community members to provide feedback to SML leadership. Our goal is to offer an anonymous option for individuals to safely identify bias, discrimination, and other concerns in a constructive manner.

Your submission will not record IP Address, location data, or contact information. If you choose, you may optionally provide your contact information for a follow-up. Thank you!