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Impact and Outreach

Diversity Seminar Series to Address Inequities in Natural Resources

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at NC State’s College of Natural Resources is launching a virtual seminar series to address the discrimination and systemic inequalities faced by marginalized individuals in fields related to natural resources. 

Funded by the Duke Energy Foundation, the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity (DIRE) Dialog seminar series aims to “create a lasting impact within the college community that brings about a change-culture to further promote a climate of equity, inclusion and belonging,” said Stacy Nelson, interim associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the college and a professor of forestry and environmental resources.

Each seminar will be led by a local or national expert on diversity, inclusion and belonging in subject areas related to natural resources. However, the DIRE series will depart from traditional seminar formatting and instead provide an opportunity for all attendees to participate in an open discussion. Once the initial discussion has concluded, attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a second follow-up discussion for further debriefing. 

“We all have unique perspectives and are incredible knowledge leaders in our fields, but we still have so much to learn from hearing and talking with each other,” Nelson said. “This series is an attempt to break down some of these walls and allow us to talk and listen.”

Although the United States is a racially and ethnically diverse country, academic and professional communities in fields related to natural resources have historically failed and, in many ways, continue to fail to engage and serve individuals belonging to marginalized identities. 

Data published by the U.S. Department of Education, for example, shows that minorities only received about 24% of the nation’s environmental science degrees in 2017. What’s more, a report sponsored by the Green 2.0 working group found that minorities only compose about 16% of the 3.2 million people employed by environmental organizations and government agencies. 

“When thinking about systemic inequities in natural resources-related fields, the list is surprisingly long,” Nelson said. “We often systemically exclude marginalized groups from sharing in the privileges that extend from education, resources, training, wealth, healthcare and even the land itself.” 

The first DIRE Dialog seminar will be held on Thursday, November 5 at noon. It will be facilitated by Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C. 

Before joining the National Wildlife Federation, Ali was the senior vice president for the Hip Hop Caucus, a non-partisan organization that connects the hip-hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. He also previously served as the assistant associate administrator for environmental justice and senior advisor for environmental justice and community revitalization at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

As part of the DIRE Dialog series, Ali will facilitate a discussion about race-equity and the impact of environmental justice issues on race, poverty, equity and inclusion. Registration for this event is required and must be completed online by Wednesday November 4 at 5 p.m.