Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Norris Center

The Norris Center firmly believes that increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the Norris Center, and across the naturalist community, is important. As such, the Norris Center has a number of ongoing projects to improve DEI at the Norris Center.

In 2020, the Norris Center formed a Diversity Committee, composed of alumni, undergraduates, and graduate students to advise the Norris Center on ways it can increase DEI in the Norris Center. 

The Diversity Committee, with help from the faculty director, Dr. Rita Mehta, created a diversity statement aimed at articulating our feelings about the importance of diversity in our museum community, the historical injustices that made natural history museums and naturalist commuinties exclusive, and what the Norris Center will do to increase DEI in our spaces in the future. The full text is below.

Read more about our ongoing initiatives to increase DEI at the Norris Center here


Norris Center Diversity Statement

The Norris Center for Natural History (NCNH) strongly believes that group diversity is integral to our goal of training the next generation of environmental leaders. We welcome the participation of all individuals, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, age, cultural background, religion, country or ethnic origin, language, disability, sexual orientation, economic class, academic discipline, political opinion, institution, or any other distinction unrelated to the enjoyment of natural history. From collecting specimens and archiving them for historical preservation to participating in natural history courses and internships, the NCNH community encourages and values everyone’s efforts.

The NCNH recognizes that group diversity is critical in all of our endeavors. Diverse perspectives promote scientific and social advancement as well as camaraderie and excellence in research. Moreover, they lead to better solutions to problems, more efficient decision-making, better outcomes, and higher levels of creativity1-3.

The NCNH acknowledges that not all groups of individuals have had equal access to resources, support, or opportunities. As a result of the colonial past, groups of people have not been properly recognized for their contributions and achievements in advancing museum science and outreach. Museums often perpetuated racist ideas proposed by scientists of the time through serving as repositories for cultural artifacts and data whose interpretation legitimized this collecting in the context of scientific thought4. Importantly, some of the most well-known natural historians, neglected to recognize the contributions of indigenous peoples to the world of science and natural history. Therefore, as a natural history museum, the NCNH acknowledges our colonial history and is aware that institutional racism persists.

Being mindful of social inequities will enhance our collective understanding and responsiveness to the experiences and needs of our participants and membership. This mindfulness will also improve our ability to respond to the ever-changing socio-political environment of those we serve.

In keeping with the UCSC Principles of Community, the NCNH is committed to the ongoing work to become a natural history community guided by the values of collaboration, respect, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We strive to ensure that these values are embodied in all of our practices including volunteer recruitment, hiring for positions at all levels, teaching, workshop offerings, and mentoring. We are committed to collaborating with our campus and community affiliates to promote these values and put them into practice at UCSC and beyond.

The NCNH will actively and regularly evaluate its progress towards implementing these values and solicit the feedback of its staff, members of the committee for student diversity, and other stakeholders.

  1. Woolley, Anita Williams, Christopher Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone. "Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups." Science 330, no. 6004 (2010): 686-688.
  2. Nielsen, W., Alegria, S., Börjeson, L., Etzkowitz, H., Falk-Krzesinski, H. J., Joshi, A., ... & Schiebinger, L. (2017). Opinion: Gender diversity leads to better science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(8), 1740-1742.
  3. Lambert, J. (2016). Cultural diversity as a mechanism for innovation: Workplace diversity and the absorptive capacity Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 20(1), 68.
  4. Das, , & Lowe, M. (2018). Nature Read in Black and White: decolonial approaches to interpreting natural history collections. Journal of Natural Science Collections, 6, 4-14.