National Science Foundation provides grant to promote ethos of care in research

The National Science Foundation has awarded the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) a collaborative grant to organize a convening around Strategies to Mitigate Implicit Bias and Promote an Ethos of Care in the Research Enterprise, under the direction of Principal Investigators Risha RaQuelle, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer at AAG, and Emily Skop, Ph.D., Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at UCCS. The combined funding for the project is $99,569.

“In our work together, we aim to go beyond superficial acts of ‘being nice’ to address the complexity and interconnectedness of uncaring systems and biases perpetuated in our higher education research landscapes,” said Skop.

The convening, which will take place in Washington, DC, September 19-20, 2024, will lay the groundwork for alternative standards in the research enterprise — defined as the systems and activities that lead to funding and research — by asking participants to reconsider their work through an “ethos of care” framework. Based on work that Skop and her collaborators published in a recent Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, an ethos of care seeks to enhance practices and processes within the research enterprise and enable collaborators to confront and address the accepted norms of power and bias, and to “resolve to disrupt and transform those norms in a mutually beneficial, evolving and inspiring manner.”

For this convening, the Principal Investigators will invite 30 participants from three different, key perspectives within the research enterprise: funding officers at colleges and universities, department chairs, and early-career geographers. They are especially eager to see participants from Emerging Research Institutions (ERIs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and community colleges, who are often under-resourced yet most qualified to address the much-needed change to align institutional research activities with the goals of belonging, access, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (BAJEDI).

As an Emerging Research Institution, UCCS will be a close partner, under the direction of Skop, in planning the 2024 convening, along with the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). These partners will develop an “Ethos of Care” credential, and convene campus funding professionals, higher education leaders, and early-career faculty, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, in a convening of up to 30 participants. They will develop an agenda and format that supports participants in sharing and exploring their experiences navigating or supporting the research enterprise, and recommend practices that are expected to broaden and strengthen the research enterprise workforce. Participants will be the inaugural cohort to earn the “Ethos of Care” credential.

Afterward, AAG and its partners will facilitate diverse working teams and BAJEDI champions to use their new credentials, and empower them to share beyond the initial convening, helping to disseminate its results and to transfer and scale its outcomes.

“Time and care are a vital part of rigorous, ethical research,” said AAG’s Principal Investigator Risha RaQuelle, Ph.D., chief strategy officer at AAG. “Evidence-based strategies that encourage diverse perspectives in the research enterprise are essential. It’s those perspectives that lead to new discoveries.”

The newly funded project seeks collective answers among scholars of all backgrounds, ages, and experience. The focal point of the project is meant to create systemic, positive change that will, in turn, foster engagement of underrepresented scholars and professionals in the research enterprise. Outreach to find participants will start in 2024, and AAG welcomes inquiries from interested potential participants.