Diversity and Social Justice

Mission Statement and Overview

The Department of Psychology is committed to creating equitable and inclusive learning and work environment for all students, faculty, and staff. This includes ensuring that the interests and perspective of all individuals within the Department are represented, including those from historically disadvantaged groups. In addition, the Department is dedicated to implementing systems of accountability and self-assessment so that programs, policies, and procedures can be evaluated critically with regard to diversity and social justice issues and designed (or redesigned) to work for everyone.

To ensure oversight and continued efforts toward improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Department has created the Diversity and Social Justice Committee (DSJ).

This committee consists of faculty and graduate student members from multiple specialty areas in the Department of Psychology and two members from the Graduate Student Advisory Committee. The group meets bi-weekly and is tasked with carrying out the Department’s mission by converting diversity, equity and inclusion goals into actions.


  • Given the Department’s mission and recognizing that the work we do inadvertently maintains inequities in ways that we do not yet understand and appreciate, we propose these broad goals:
    • Accountability: Create mechanisms of accountability so the interests and perspectives of underrepresented communities are better incorporated into decision-making processes.
    • Diversity: Create faculty and graduate student recruitment strategies that target underrepresented populations in psychology.
    • Self-Assessment, Implementation and Communication: Critically evaluate and redesign departmental programs, policies, and procedures, and disseminate evaluation findings to department members.
    • Learning and Awareness: Encourage and support individuals and groups within the department in their own efforts to identify and reduce bias.
    • Support and Resources: Provide support and resources that foster understanding and relationship building between faculty, staff, and students and groups that have not historically had strong relationships with those in power.

Action Items

The Diversity and Social Justice committee in the psychology department understands that developing an inclusive environment is a complex process. There will be missteps along the way; however, progress can be made if faculty, staff and students with relative privilege step up to contribute to social justice. The following list of action items reflects steps that are underway to build a more welcoming and supportive environment for BIPOC and other underrepresented people.

  • The committee is actively promoting training opportunities for faculty, staff and students to develop a more inclusive environment by encouraging:
    • Selection of BIPOC or underrepresented groups as graduate colloquium speakers
    • Attending town halls and CODE workshops hosted by ADEI
    • Requiring grad students to complete Graduate School teaching assistant diversity training
    • Promoting CLAS speaker series and seminars hosted by NIU cultural centers

Goals targeted: Learning and Awareness; Support and Resources

  • The committee is involved in facilitating and communicating recruitment opportunities and resources that focus on increasing the number of graduate students that identify as BIPOC or other underrepresented groups.

Goals targeted: Diversity

  • The committee is developing resources to support the retention of faculty, staff, and students who identify as BIPOC or other underrepresented groups. These resources include but are not limited to:
    • Peer mentoring network
    • Calendar of events related to NIU cultural centers
    • Reports from NIU diversity groups (ARC, UFA, Faculty Senate DC, CLAS DC)

Goals targeted: Diversity; Support and Resources

  • The committee is developing annual forums to discuss revisions of curriculum in graduate and undergraduate classes to include diversity and social justice issues. These discussions include online discussion boards or brownbag sessions that could cover the following example resources:
    • Examples of DSJ related lectures
    • Revisions of syllabi that include DSJ topics
    • Published papers related to DSJ topics

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation and Communication; Learning and Awareness

  • The committee, working with psychology department committees, is promoting self-assessment of policies and procedures described in the faculty manual. Revisions are being made to support the recruitment and retention of BIPOC and other underrepresented faculty, staff, and students.

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation and Communication

  • The committee will begin working with Institutional Research to develop a system for departmental and instructor level assessments of equity gaps. The hope is these data may provide a basis to evaluate the success of course redesign.

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation and Communication

  • The committee will be providing annual executive summary reports that share the results of the annual undergraduate climate surveys that have been conducted each semester in research methods classes. In addition, work is underway to adapt this survey for use with graduate students on an annual basis. These executive summaries will provide a foundation for revising departmental policies and procedures.

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation and Communication

  • The committee will work with the Chair of Psychology, Dean of CLAS, and other administrative units to advocate for support (e.g., faculty course release, grad student lines) to assist with organizing DSJ resources, to conduct equity gap analyses, and to develop executive summaries for the climate surveys.

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation, and Communication

  • The committee will work with Sponsored Programs grant specialists to communicate extramural (FOA) opportunities that foster recruitment and retention of BIPOC or underrepresented groups. In addition, the DSJ group will communicate opportunities from national (APA, SfN) and regional (MPA) organizations that support BIPOC or underrepresented groups.

Goals targeted: Diversity; Support and Resources

  • We are open to feedback. To guide this process, the committee will develop an annual report to document activities and outcomes. The report will be shared with the psychology department and NIU diversity groups.

Goals targeted: Accountability; Self-Evaluation, Implementation and Communication