Department of Environmental Science and Studies Statement of Commitment to Racial Equity

To the Stetson community: 

We, in the Department of Environmental Science and Studies, share this statement to affirm, unequivocally, that Black lives matter. We, like many of you, have been devastated by the recent killings of Black Americans – those we know about and those we do not – as well as the stories of racism experienced by faculty, staff and students on our own campus. We recognize that these events are not outliers, but examples of the systemic violence against Black and Brown people upon which our society is built. The systems of oppression made visible by the Black Lives Matter movement emerge from a genocidal and exploitative history that our nation, as a whole, has yet to adequately address.  

As a department of predominately White faculty, representing multiple predominately White disciplines, teaching at a predominately White institution, we acknowledge our collective privileges, biases and shortcomings. However, we are also deeply committed to leveraging our positions, privileges and areas of expertise to help create a campus environment in which all students feel safe, valued and capable of flourishing. We pledge to do the following: 

  • Work to actively create an environment that celebrates human diversity in its myriad forms.
  • Affirm the presence and contributions of Black, Brown and otherwise marginalized students in our classes.
  • Amplify the voices of Stetson community members who are silenced or otherwise disempowered, and lend our own voices in support when necessary. 
  • Call out and address instances of injustice or bias in our classes, faculty meetings and everyday lives.
  • Listen to and validate the stories of those whose lived experiences differ from our own.
  • Investigate and uproot our own internalized biases and pedagogical biases (for example, evaluating our syllabi and asking, “whose voices are represented in the readings?” or “which course policies are inequitable or exclusionary?”) 
  • Pursue formal partnerships with non-predominately White institutions, such as Bethune-Cookman University.
  • Reflect critically on our community-engaged teaching and research, ask if these practices are contributing to or detracting from community empowerment and racial equity, and adjust accordingly.
  • Actively seek funding to support the recruitment, retention and advancement of underrepresented students in our disciplines.
  • Maintain a spirit of cultural and personal humility throughout this process – resist defensiveness, remain open to feedback, acknowledge that we can always do better.

We, as a predominantly White department, appreciate the willingness of our community partners of color to trust us and work with us to inspire our students and shape their learning. We will teach our students the importance of appreciation and humility at the opportunity to learn from communities that may be different from their own. 

As we write this, we are all navigating the “new normal” of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black, Brown and other marginalized people. We understand – and commit to serve as allies in addressing – the systemic inequities in access to health care and socio-economic support that is being further exposed by this terrible pandemic crisis.   

We share this statement with the hope that other members of the Stetson community may feel inspired to do the same. We also share it so that others may help hold us accountable to these commitments. The process of removing White supremacy from our institutions and mentalities requires a dedication to awareness and action. We are committed to the belief that change can and must occur.  

Signed: 

Sarah Cramer
Visiting Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems 

Asal Johnson
Associate Professor of Public Health  

Wendy Anderson
Professor of Environmental Science and Studies 

Tony Abbott
Professor of Environmental Science and Studies 

Ben Tanner
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies
Department Chair 

Jason Evans
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies
Interim Executive Director, Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience 

David Griffis
Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science and Studies

Cathy Day
Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Studies