students at Yosemite hike

Diversity and Inclusion Plan

The Department of Geography’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, consisting of faculty, staff, and students, drafted the Diversity and Inclusion Plan. Our Plan sets out our vision for fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all.

We recognize that the discipline of geography stems from a history of colonialism, exploitation, and exclusion. The geography department at SDSU focuses on researching complex and global interdependencies among people, places, and environments, developing diverse methodological approaches, and advancing the frontiers of geographic information science. In doing so, we strive to avoid past errors and contribute to a more just and sustainable future with thoughtful and thorough research. Our department makes an effort to be respectful and ethical to all involved. We uphold the belief that diversity is an integral part of our discipline and we are committed to its continuation and development.

We are committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all. We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. This includes discrimination based on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, citizenship, nationality, socioeconomic status, age, health, political belief, religion, military status or geographic origin. We aim to create a positive and safe space where all members of our community are comfortable expressing their values and beliefs. This approach carries over into our research, where we strive to maintain respectful and ethical behavior within the communities we work, both locally and around the world.

The department is implementing measures to address issues regarding inclusion and diversity. To assess sentiments toward departmental inclusivity, we will gather yearly anonymous input from geography students. This input will direct our continued efforts to create a more diverse and welcoming department community. These efforts include bolstering our anti-racism curriculum and expanding community outreach with local students. We understand that creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive department community requires consistent and meaningful evaluation and adaptation. As such, our department goals and efforts will adapt to best address the needs of our community.

Since time immemorial, the Kumeyaay (Kumiai/Tipai/Ipai/Kamia/Diegueno/Diegueño) people have been a part of the lands and waters we call today San Diego County. These lands and waters have nourished, healed, protected, and been part of the familial and social of the Kumeyaay for many, many generations—and continue to be today. With, in, and of these lands and waters, Kumeyaay have practiced familial and social relationships of stewardship, care, balance, and harmony. As members of the San Diego State University community and residents of San Diego County, we recognize that we are contributing to a colonial-settler institution and that most of us are settlers in these indigenous Kumeyaay lands. We both acknowledge this legacy and ongoing presence of coloniality and recognize that we have a deep obligation and responsibility to work towards restorative geographical, historical, political, cognitive, legal, and social justice with and for Kumeyaay people, wherever, whenever, and however they deem appropriate.

Due to the nature of our discipline, social justice, environmental justice, decolonization, and anti-racism are already deeply embedded in our curriculum. For instance, the following provide just a few examples of how diversity and inclusion are interwoven throughout our human, environmental, physical and GIS courses:

  • In GEOG 102: People, Places and Environments, students learn about how space, place and identity foster social inclusion and exclusion, as well as how racism is a socio-spatial process that varies with context.
  • In GEOG 170: Sustainable Places and Practices, students learn about environmental justice at both the local and global scale.
  • In GEOG 324: Latin America, students learn about the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples of the Americas and how decolonization is an ongoing process.
  • In GEOG 342: Food, Place, and Culture, students study the cultural significance of food in shaping places, identities, and bodies, paying attention to the role of race, ethnicity, immigration status, and gender.
  • In GEOG 380: Map Investigation, students are encouraged to develop critical perspectives on maps and mapping, their societal context, conflicted history, inherent biases and limitations.
  • In GEOG 554: World Cities, students explore how environmental racism and processes of gentrification are centered around historical and ongoing inequalities in many global cities.
  • In GEOG 574: Water Resources, students learn about how power and poverty shape unequal access to water in nations around the world.
  • In GEOG 584: Methods and Applications of Geographic Information Systems, students learn methodologies and techniques to help identify spatial vulnerabilities, both contemporary and historical.

That being said, we recognize that there is always room for improvement. To that end, in the next section, we propose the following goals and strategies to help foster further diversity and inclusion in Geography. This includes diversity in all senses of the word, including encouraging first-generation college students and lower-income students to pursue degrees in Geography and also feel comfortable and included within the department.

College of Arts and Letters Goal 1 - Recruitment of a diverse student population
  • Maintain and utilize a list of outlets for outreach to recruit undergraduate and graduate students from diverse groups, including first generation and lower-income students
  • Organize one event during Geography Awareness Week that emphasizes diversity within geography and aims to recruit a diverse study body, including first generation and lower-income students
College of Arts and Letters Goal 2 - Retention and Improving Climate
  • Monitor and raise awareness of racial and other bias in student teaching evaluations by including this in RTP support letters
  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data from students to better assess diversity and inclusion disparities that may exist in Geography (including course and faculty-specific feedback) and ensure that all students have access to high-impact activities including internships and undergraduate research
  • Diversify our speakers at Department Colloquia, reach out to graduate students for speaker recruitment Staff recruitment and selection through diversified department committee (including underrepresented faculty/ staff groups)
College of Arts and Letters Goal 3 - Student Support
  • Circulate information about relevant trainings/seminars including implicit bias, microaggression, Ally trainings, and other relevant tips about encouraging diversity and inclusion at the beginning of each semester
  • Create a shared document with useful references, sources, class projects/activities related to a diversity of perspectives that could be integrated into course curriculum
Based on the recommendation of the University Senate standing committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), ALL departments must include in their plans the following four interventions for recruiting a diverse faculty and staff:
  1. Implicit bias training for all search committees;
  2. Including a certified Inclusion Representative on all search committees;
  3. Incorporate at least two of the following Building on Inclusive Excellence (BIE) criteria into search efforts.
  4. Strategies that will lead to an applicant pool (of those who meet the basic qualifications) with a proportion of historically underrepresented groups that is similar to the proportion among those holding terminal degrees in the discipline.