Diversity and inclusion initiatives have taken place all around campus, and the Natural Resource Ecology and Management (NREM) department decided to make an initiative as well.
Tiffanie Stone, a graduate student in NREM, explained the NREM department organized an initiative around the program NREM Reads that focuses on the book "The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair With Nature," written by J. Drew Lanham, alumni distinguished professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University. The program also focuses on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative in the department.
Stone explained while the NREM department studies diversity, they lack diversity within their department.
“In the [NREM] Department at ISU, we study biodiversity across a wide range of species and landscapes,” Stone said. “Yet our department does not reflect the diversity of our broader community. As a department, we have begun to address this important gap in perspectives by intentionally featuring diverse leaders and champions of natural resource conservation. Greater diversity in our community of faculty, staff and students will strengthen our ability to effectively conserve landscapes today and into the future.”
Stone said this initiative was created when it was brought to the attention of the NREM department when there was a call for DEI in departmental committees. She said DEI is important because it is not only the right thing to do, but there is also research proving DEI improves education and research.
Stone said the NREM Reads program promotes reading and discussing "The Home Place" culminating in a lecture delivered by Lanham. Stone said "The Home Place" is about a complex and beautiful relationship Lanham has with nature in the context of structural racism in the United States.
“By highlighting 'The Home Place' and making space for students and faculty to talk about their experiences in nature as well as issues surrounding [DEI] in natural resource management and related fields, we hope to build a sense of community, increase awareness of need with regard to DEI in natural sciences and spark future efforts to make change,” Stone said.
Stone said the NREM department has given away 100 free copies of the book to students, and students have access to unlimited copies of the book virtually from Parks Library.