Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Inequalities based on income, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, religion and opportunity continue to persist across the world, within and among countries. We cannot achieve sustainable development and make the planet better for all if we exclude people from opportunities, services, and the chance for a better life.
Sustainable development goal #10 requires transformative change. At the University of Minnesota we are committed to providing a learning and working environment where everyone can flourish, conducting research that explores inequalities and the affect they have within our immediate community and beyond, and engaging with stakeholders and policymakers to help transform our world for future generations.
RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
UMN Public Events Related Raising Awareness and Reducing Inequality
The Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) maintains a list of events taking place across the University of Minnesota system in support of Black History Month in February. Some events are more specifically related to Black History Month, and others are events that center Black creators and student groups and organizations.
The Equity and Diversity Breakfast brings together the University community and external stakeholders—alumni, donors, community organizations, and corporate entities—to recognize the students, staff, and faculty that exemplify the University's commitment to equity and diversity. The breakfast includes recognizing the outstanding students that receive Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Awards, as well as the winners of the Outstanding Unit Award for Equity and Diversity, the Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award, and the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Award.
Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert intermixes the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with musical performances from U of M students and the greater Twin Cities community. When the tribute began at the University of Minnesota in the early 1980s, it was the only event of its kind in Minnesota. 2023 marked the 42nd concert.
The Voice, Art, and Community: UMN Series features diverse voices through the arts and humanities. Events in this series explore lived experiences and individual perspectives of creators, introducing nuanced conversations that further our understanding of equity, justice, and our public and institutional history.
A collaboration between The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Northrop, Welcome Week, Multicultural Student Engagement and the School of Music, Amplifying Solidarity offered a series of free outdoor events with the intent to use the arts to lift the voices of people who have been marginalized, to welcome the community, students, faculty, and staff back to campus, and to celebrate our campus community.
Concepts of Indigenous data sovereignty challenge the western academic perspectives on information, data, and ownership. Every year the Institute for Advanced Study hosts the Thinking Spatially Symposium. For 2023, the symposium focused on Indigenous Data Sovereignty with a series of presentations featuring Indigenous researchers exploring issues of data ownership and access, including spatial data, and discussing how these issues need to be approached in research and public communication.
University Public and Government Partnerships in Support of Reduced Inequalities
Minnesota Transform is a major higher education initiative engaging anti-colonial and racial justice work through the public humanities at the University of Minnesota, in the Twin Cities, and across the state of Minnesota. Supported by a Just Futures Mellon grant, MN Transform puts “humanities on the front lines” through numerous public and university partnerships and hundreds of student internships on racial justice. On campus, MN Transform lays the groundwork for structural changes that expand the university’s racial justice work.
The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) is an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation which is intended to double the number of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Alaska Native and Pacific Islander students receiving baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in a five-year period. The Louis Stokes North Star STEM Alliance is the Minnesota branch of this nation-wide program and UMN-Twin Cities, UMN-Rochester, UMN-Morris and UMN-Duluth are among their 14 higher education institutional partners.
University Programs Focused on Reducing Inequalities Our Communities
The School of Public Health has developed a Strategic Plan for Antiracism which includes their commitment to actively making diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice central to their operations and mission and to challenging racism’s influence wherever it is found. In fall 2022, as part of this effort, they launched the SPAR Animated Video Series where they explore different topics related to antiracism, justice, and equity.
The Robert F. Pierce Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at UMD is a professional, non-profit clinic for people with communication disorders and differences. The clinic partners with community organizations to serve as a teaching facility for students entering the field of speech-language pathology. Community members receive free services from student interns under the supervision of faculty.
The Morris Intercultural Education Initiative seeks to ensure that educational inequalities facing youth and adults from immigrant families are eliminated and all residents of the Morris area can participate equally in community life. The initiative began with a community needs and assets assessment to determine the educational needs of new immigrants whose first language was not English and has resulted in a number of ongoing programs.
Beginning in the fall of 2020 and concluding a year later, a task force of 14 UMN Extension employees examined how the organization could become more inclusive and welcoming while addressing issues of racial inequality and social justice in the communities Extension serves. The task force's report serves as the foundation for ongoing efforts toward future programming and employee engagement.
Community Programs Supporting Underrepresented Youth
The Swenson College of Science and Engineering at UMD, works closely with the Duluth Youth Agency Coalition. The Coalition is a inclusive and diverse partnership of youth serving agencies focused on establishing and maintaining a coordinated approach to accessible and equitable programming , sharing resources and funding, while elevating the prioritization of youth in the community.
The College of Science and Engineering's Rooted in STEM brings together high school students in grades 10-12 from historically excluded identities in STEM to learn about STEM academics and community support at the UMN Twin Cities. Along with an undergraduate mentor, participants will relate their individual identities and experiences within STEM.
EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
UMN POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION
Policies and Programs Supporting First-Generation Students
As of the current writing, on the Twin Cities campus, roughly 25% of undergraduate students are the first in their families to attend college. This includes approximately 20 percent of incoming freshmen and 36 percent of new transfer students. First-generation (FG) students bring many strengths to campus, including being resourceful, self-reliant, practical, flexible, persistent, etc. Below are a few programs in place to support them as they fulfill their higher education goals.
The First-Gen Institute in the College of Education and Human Development focuses on researching, developing, and disseminating evidence-based practices and building communities that relate to the experience of FG college and graduate students, FG employees, and faculty across higher education and initiatives and programs aimed at increasing access and success for first-generation college students across the country.
Supported by the Graduate School, First-Gen Connect is a supportive mentoring and advocacy network that connects current FG college students who are in graduate programs with UMN alumni.
The UMN-Morris has several programs focused on preparing FG students and students from underserved groups for their first semester of college. Included in these efforts is the Gate Program, the STELLAR Online Program and Summit Scholars.
Tuition Waivers and Scholarships for First-Generation Students and Underrepresented Groups
The Minnesota Dream Act, which is also known as The Prosperity Act, was passed into Minnesota law in May 2013 and adopted as an official University of Minnesota policy in July 2013 by the Board of Regents. Under this law and policy, undocumented Minnesota high school graduates regardless of immigration status who meet certain criteria can receive: in-state resident tuition rates for undergraduate and graduate students at public colleges and universities, state financial aid available to students who meet state residency requirements, and privately funded financial aid through public colleges and universities.
Effective Fall 2023, the University of Minnesota Native American Promise Tuition Program expanded the full tuition waiver program on the UMN-Morris campus. The expanded program provides substantial financial support, in many cases free tuition, to first-year undergraduate students and transfer students from Tribal colleges on the remaining four campuses who are enrolled citizens in one of Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations.
The Puckett Scholarship was created in 1994 by Kirby and Tonya Puckett to provide scholarships for incoming first-year students from Minnesota. Any high school senior from the state of Minnesota who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is eligible to apply for the Puckett Scholarship. They gave preference to students of color who show strong academic achievement, leadership and/or community involvement, financial need, and who have excellent potential to succeed at the college level.
Mentoring, Counseling and Peer Support for Underrepresented Groups
UMN Affinity groups help make the University a more welcoming and inclusive place to work and learn. Among the list of current UMN Affinity Groups are: Asian American Pacific Islander Desi Faculty and Staff Association, American Indian Faculty & Staff Association, Black Faculty & Staff Association, Disabled Employees at the U, Jewish Faculty & Staff Association, among others.
The Immigration Response Team seeks to ensure that all faculty, staff, and students who are affected by immigration policy changes have access to resources and support. The team provides outreach to the greater University community on the impact of executive orders and other policy changes, immigration regulations, and issues connected with DACA and immigration status.
The Multicultural Student Success Steering Committee seeks to improve the retention, graduation, and campus climate outcomes for undergraduate students of color and American Indian students. The committee is composed of leaders from key areas on the Twin Cities campus who focus on the experiences of underrepresented students.
The Native American Student Success (NASS) program focuses on serving Native American students at UMN-Morris. NASS supports students in their academic, social, and cultural development. The program strives to create a home away from home environment for students and provides a community (including specialized staff, programs and peer mentoring) that will support them from their first year of college to their graduation.
The Next-Gen Psych Scholars Program (NPSP) is a virtual graduate student-led mentorship program for underrepresented undergraduates and post-baccalaureates interested in applying to psychology PhD programs. As an outreach program of the Institute for Child Development, NPSP believes that diversifying the next generation of psychologists will enhance the questions we ask, the methods we use to capture diverse lived experiences, and ensure that the conclusions we draw are rooted in context and integrity.
Faculty, Staff and Student Training Opportunities, Resources and Initiatives to Improve Equity and Diversity
The Office for Equity & Diversity (OED) Education Program offers educational opportunities for individuals, departments, colleges, and units. This effort includes workshops for individual units, faculty and staff specific workshops aimed at identifying implicit bias and an equity and diversity certificate program aimed at helping participants develop the tools necessary for advancing equity and diversity in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. In Spring 2022, OED reported a 1,000% increase in demand for their services and programs over the past year.
The Gopher Equity Project started in 2019 at the recommendation of the Multicultural Student Success Committee. The project has led to a diversity, equity and inclusion online educational module for new students as they begin their UMN career.
The Diversity Community of Practice (DCoP) is a grassroots community of faculty and staff from collegiate and administrative units. The purpose of the DCoP is to develop and leverage personal, professional, and technical expertise, and to share innovative strategies that ensure successful implementation of equity and diversity goals across the University.
The College MADE (Multicultural Access, Diversity, and Equity) Initiative provides individual colleges at the UMN with data-driven approaches to increase representational diversity, improve campus climate, and create partnerships to grow diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence across our campuses. This is a systemwide capacity building initiative that will expand to system campuses, administrative units, and centers.
The UMN Racial Justice Resource website was created by the Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies Center who saw a need to offer racial justice resources for students, staff, faculty, and community partners who are activists and are looking for support for their work, models from similar organizing efforts, and potential collaborators and coalition partners.
The Racial Justice Training Program is a cohort-based, semester-long racial and social justice education program geared towards academic advisors. Participants will further develop their awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to better serve students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), thus also enhancing support for students from other historically minoritized groups.
Tracking Applications and Admittance Rates of Underrepresented Groups and Plans to Improve
Systemwide, the percentage of all BIPOC undergraduate, graduate, and professional students has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
The fourth commitment laid-out in MPact 2025 focuses on tracking measurements related to community and sense of belonging. Among the performance drivers being tracked are:
- Increase percentage of BIPOC / underrepresented (ethnicity) undergraduate students in the freshmen class
- Increase percentage of BIPOC / underrepresented (ethnicity) incoming professional and graduate students
- Decrease 4-year and 6-year graduation gaps between white and BIPOC students
Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies
According to the University’s Discrimination Policy: “All University members are prohibited from engaging in, or assisting or abetting another’s engagement in, discrimination and related retaliation. The University of Minnesota will take prompt and effective steps intended to end prohibited conduct; prevent its recurrence; and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.”
The UMN Discrimination policy is tied to the Board of Regents Policy: Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action which was adopted in 1995 and amended in 2009 and 2018. It lays out processes for reporting prohibited conduct and the roles and responsibilities of various University personal.
The UMN Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence Policy outlines the University’s definitions and procedures related to acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, and related retaliation. It is tied to the Board of Regents Policy: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence.
To address campus climate concerns, in early 2014, then-President Eric W. Kaler created the Initiative to Improve Campus Climate on the Twin Cities Campus. Between 2014 and 2019, this initiative was expanded and sustained as a collaborative effort across campus. A Campus Climate Engagement Team led some of those efforts, and other initiatives and projects were created and led in colleges and units and among senior leadership. Improving Campus Climate remains a top concern for University leadership.
Accessible Facilities and Services for People with Disabilities
The Disability Resource Center works to ensure that students, faculty and staff have access to all the UMN system offers and equal opportunities to take part activities on campus. The Center’s overarching goal is to ensure that everyone has access to all the learning opportunities they choose, whether in class or at work, or participating in the wide range of social and cultural experiences the University offers.
Academic Disability is a University program that provides paid medical leave and short-term and long-term benefits to eligible faculty and P&A employees who become unable to perform their work duties due to a certified mental or physical health issue.
In accordance with the UMN Accessibility of Information Technology Policy, the Accessible U website was designed as a resource to help the University community cultivate more inclusive—digitally accessible—experiences on course sites, websites, Zoom meetings, documents, presentations, applications, etc.
The mission of the UMD’s Commission on Disabilities is to advocate for meaningful access and inclusiveness across campus for all people, to promote educational awareness of both visible and invisible disabilities and to assure legal compliance with all regulations related t inequity for individuals with disabilities.