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Emmanuel College has received a six-year, $529,500 award from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to fund transformative efforts to address the historic lack of diversity in the sciences.

Through the Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) grant, Emmanuel and HHMI will collaborate to reflect on inclusive excellence and to foster an educational environment that seeks to dismantle the effects of systemic racism.

“When we made the commitment to apply for this grant, it initiated a months-long introspective process to assess equity and access for our student-colleagues who are intended and current biology majors,” said Dr. Anupama Seshan (pictured), associate professor of biology and HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 program director. “A team of representatives from across the college community closely collaborated to analyze student success in an effort to develop the proposal for eliminating barriers for Historically Minoritized Individuals (HMIs) in the sciences.”

Emmanuel College was selected as one of 14 institutions to be part of the Learning Community Cluster 3. This resulted in an initial $30,000 learning grant that has been used thus far to fund Belonging in Biology student-led scholarly internship projects; the engagement of a nationally recognized inclusive pedagogy expert to campus to educate School of Science & Health faculty; a pilot STEM peer mentoring program; and the Community Learning and Inclusivity Partnership (CLIP) program at Emmanuel. CLIP is an innovative program through which student-faculty partner pairs at Emmanuel work together to foster inclusive classrooms.

“This generous grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute advances Emmanuel as a leader in developing programs that address the critical issue of diversity in the sciences,” said Mary K. Boyd, president of Emmanuel College. “The initiatives made possible by this support are designed to empower students to excel in a range of science-related fields and, more broadly, to foster a more just, inclusive and equitable society. In this sense, they are a direct reflection of our mission as a Catholic college rooted in the values and global vision of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur."

By collaborating with an array of institutions earning Community Cluster 3, Emmanuel seeks to shift the institution from deficit- to achievement-oriented thinking and practices through five overlapping areas of activity: continuing education; inclusive curricula; student empowerment; inclusive collaboration; and broader approaches to institutional transformation. Leadership for the initiative represents areas across the Emmanuel community, including biology faculty and staff/administration from the offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Academic Affairs, Academic Advising, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and Institutional Research.

“It is very gratifying to see the HHMI affirm Emmanuel as an engine of possibility for aspiring scientists, especially those from historically underrepresented communities,” said Josef M. Kurtz, vice president of academic affairs and professor of biology. “From its founding in 1919, Emmanuel has had a special strength in the sciences, along with a deep commitment to educational access and opportunity. These hallmark traits are more vibrant than ever, as evidenced by our dramatic growth as a center of scientific teaching, learning and research over the last two decades, and by our efforts to adopt innovative programs and practices aimed at advancing inclusive excellence in the sciences.”

As a nonprofit research organization and philanthropy, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s mission is to advance the discovery and sharing of scientific knowledge to benefit all. HHMI employs scientists, provides research and education grants, offers free classroom resources, and shares stories of science with audiences worldwide. Across all work, HHMI encourages talented scientists, educators, and students to stay curious, pursue tough scientific questions, and contribute to making science more inclusive.

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from the sciences. IE3 is distinct from previous HHMI science education initiatives because it begins with a learning phase and, during that phase, learning communities will envision how to move cooperatively into an implementation phase.