We in the Odum School of Ecology are enriched by diverse perspectives and backgrounds. As an academic institution, it is our responsibility to support student success and the well-being of all community members. We commit to sustaining spaces that are welcoming to and respectful of all people from all backgrounds—regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or any other identity—by intentionally and continuously dedicating time and attention to issues of diversity, excellence and inclusion in all we do. To move from awareness to action, we came together as a community and created the 5-year strategic OSE Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Plan*, as well as an action plan, A Way Forward*, which guides the Diversity Committee’s activities each year to achieve our strategic goals.

Historically, academia has played a role in perpetuating systems of exclusion and discrimination, and in creating differential barriers to engagement and success. As members of an academic institution, we strive to dismantle such systems and to promote a fair and just community for all through our own interpersonal interactions, our research, our curriculum and our outreach. As a community that values diversity and inclusivity, we stand against comments or actions that perpetuate or reinforce systems of discrimination, marginalization or exclusion.

*These plans, and all policies of the Odum School of Ecology, are in alignment with the mission and policies of the University of Georgia. The University of Georgia does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, veteran status or disability in employment, admission or access to its programs or activities.

Read More: What do DIVERSITY and INCLUSION mean in the Odum School of Ecology?

The words diversity and diverse address differences in social group membership, related for example to race, Indigenous identity, class, gender identity or expression, sexuality, ability, ethnicity or religion. Membership in such groups is a common basis for historical and contemporary experiences of oppression and exclusion. Valuing diversity means appreciating our unique differences and our interconnectedness. It means recognizing systemic and institutionalized discrimination, and building relationships across our differences. In the Odum School, diversity is regarded as uniting rather than dividing. Appreciating social difference is important, yet a commitment to diversity also prompts us to acknowledge all the things that connect us.  

The words inclusion and inclusive refer to the notion of belonging, feeling welcome, having a sense of citizenship, and the capacity to engage and succeed in a given institution, program or setting. This calls for recognizing, reducing and removing barriers to participation and belonging in a way that is fair, just and welcoming for all. Fostering inclusive excellence sometimes entails changing or reimagining institutions, programs or settings that are not inclusive and welcoming to all. It may entail reducing preferential treatment and systemic disadvantages for some to achieve a level playing field among all individuals and communities. Inclusion means welcoming and valuing all members of our community.

Diversity Committee

The purpose of the Diversity Committee is to facilitate the movement of the Odum School’s diversity and inclusion vision and strategic plans into action. By coordinating initiatives, providing resources and tracking progress, the committee aims to encourage each community member to play a positive role in creating a diverse, welcoming environment.  

2023-2024 Committee Members

  • Lizzie King (acting chair), Associate Professor
  • Ford Ballantyne, Associate Professor
  • J.P. Schmidt, Assistant Research Scientist
  • Breanna Ondich, Public Service Professional
  • Shelby Bauer, Graduate Student
  • Alyssa Quan, Graduate Student
  • Mackenzie Bosworth, Undergraduate Student

If you have questions or comments for the Diversity Committee, or regarding diversity and inclusion in the Odum School, please use this anonymous feedback form

Odum School Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Plan

The Odum School’s 5-year strategic plan to promote diversity and inclusive excellence outlines our key priorities and goals.  The plan is aligned to support the University’s Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Plan within our community.

Priority I: Building an Inclusive Living/Learning Environment that Supports Access and Success for Diverse Students

1.1: Facilitate the recruitment of enrollment of underrepresented and underserved students at the undergraduate and graduate level in the Odum School of Ecology (OSE).

1.2: Enhance field safety for school staff and students to promote inclusivity by reducing and countering experiences of exclusion, discrimination or violence based on gender or any other form of identity status.

1.3: Provide learning and community-building opportunities for faculty, staff and students to improve their teaching, mentoring and collaborative research skills when engaging with people from diverse backgrounds.

Priority II: Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce to Advance Our Mission in the 21st Century

2.1: Provide students with diverse faculty mentorship opportunities.

2.2: Provide the Odum community with diverse external mentorship opportunities.

2.3: Promote faculty and staff time commitments to outreach that promotes more inclusive and diverse experiences and opportunities in ecology for all.

Priority III: Expanding Partnerships and Outreach to Strengthen Diverse Communities

3.1: Promote financial, material and Human Resources to support inclusive outreach activities in OSE.

3.2: Promote student time commitments for outreach that fosters more inclusive and diverse experiences and opportunities in ecology for all.

3.3: Provide and promote resources to improve inclusivity in OSE communications and outreach activities.

Events & Initiatives 

The Odum School hosts events and initiatives to broaden participation, celebrate diversity, and foster inclusivity in the School, in ecology, and in our communities.

Ongoing Initiatives

EcoReach is Odum School of Ecology’s student-run environmental outreach program. EcoReach focuses on meeting the community’s needs by collaborating with other organizations such as Athens-Clarke County Libraries, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, AmeriCorps, and others.

STEMzone: OSE graduate student Reni Kaul founded this annual football gameday program that offers hands-on opportunities to engage people of all ages on research being done at UGA in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

EMERGE:  OSE Faculty members Amy Rosemond and Amanda Rugenski are leading a national program to create an environment of inclusion to broaden participation and leadership in freshwater science.  With a 5-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, EMERGE provides welcoming spaces, mentorship, and growth experiences for students from groups under-represented in STEM fields, including those based on race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and first-generation college status.

Resources to Enhance Diversity and Inclusion: The Diversity Committee is working with other committees within OSE and across campus to compile and curate key resources, including a Field Safety Manual and Guidelines, Resources for Creating Inclusive Learning Environments, and Resources for Diversifying Course Curricula.

Past events

  • May 2023:  Special Seminar: Dr. Saran Traore, Visiting Fulbright Scholar from Burkina Faso.
  • April 2023:  UGA Odum Lecture / Signature Lecture: Dr. Ivette Perfecto, University of Michigan.  
    Food Systems at a Crossroads: Producing Food and Conserving our Planet”
  • April 2023: Full-Day Workshop, Dr. Madhusudan Katti, North Carolina State University.  “Five Shifts in Research and Teaching Practice Towards Decolonizing Ecology
  • February 2023: Odum School Seminar: Dr. Ryan Emanuel, Duke University.  “This Machine Promotes Justice: Why Environmental Sciences Need Environmental Justice (and vice versa)”

Campus resources  

Campus Offices and Organizations

Prospective and Incoming Students

Faculty/Staff Resources

Report incidents of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct

Further reading and additional resources (not complete)

Resources for promoting safety in the field

Resources for diversifying syllabi in ecology

Resources for fostering inclusive learning environments

Resources to support inclusive language practices (from UGA School of Social Work)

Read More

Land and Labor Acknowledgement 

We acknowledge that many indigenous peoples have past and present connections to the land where the University of Georgia main campus stands.  This was the traditional territory of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The land was seized by the US government, and the Creek were forcibly removed. To learn more, visit the Invasion of America e-history project.

Slavery was integral in the history of the University of Georgia.  More information can be found at the Department of History’s UGA & Slavery site and the digital exhibition, Slavery at the University of Georgia.