The Role of Disciplinary Societies

The Role of Disciplinary Societies

Saturday, October 4, 2003
12:30 - 2:00 pm

Pamela Scott-Johnson, Chairperson, Department of Psychology- Morgan State University

Many professional organizations and disciplinary societies within Science, Mathematics, and Technology fields of study recognize the need to increase the participation of under-represented minorities. The general goals of these organizations and societies are to 1) establish programs that address the issues and needs of minority constituents, 2) develop long-range plans to ensure increased involvement of under-represented minorities, 3) promote and acknowledge the professional contributions of scientists and teacher / scholars within the discipline, 4) support the development of scholarly networks that promote faculty development and student training at all levels and among diverse academic settings. Professional organizations and disciplinary societies have established Steering or Standing Committees or Commissions as well as Offices of Minority Affairs. These groups consist primarily of individuals who are committed to ensuring the diversity of ideas, intellect, and educational background within their respective organizations. Listed below are special efforts (e.g. committees, offices and programs) of organizations and disciplinary societies to increase and ensure under-represented minority involvement.

Specialized programs have been developed for high school students, undergraduates, and graduates to "secure" the participation by providing scholarships, internships and research opportunities, meeting attendance, pre-professional development through oral / poster presentations. Administrators, faculty members and scientists from industry work together to develop and enhance networks, faculty development, and institutional curricular reforms.

Four examples are listed below:

  1. The American Chemical Society has established the ACS Diversity Programs. In particular, two committees develop activities which are designed to increasing underrepresented minority participation in the chemical sciences is a major focus of the American Chemical Society. Many of the activities and programs to encourage the participation and leadership of minorities are under the purview of the Committee on Minority Affairs and are administered through the Minority Affairs Program. Activities are listed in three major areas: student programs, member programs, and collaborations with minority advocacy organizations.

  2. The Mathematical Association of America has an Office of Minority Participation, under which is its SUMMA (Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement).

    The Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement SUMMA) Program of the Mathematical Association of America was established in 1990 to increase the representation of minorities in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering and improve the education of minorities.

    SUMMA staff assists mathematicians in addressing issues that affect minority students and faculty on campuses, in schools, and in other mathematical organizations. SUMMA staff work directly with classroom teachers, building their capacity to obtain funding, and to state their needs. SUMMA provides: public dissemination of information on how to improve mathematics education for minorities; background information and historical data; sources of funding for projects; assistance in presentations to the public and its representatives; minority participation on committees and boards of the MAA; recommendations for external government and private panels.

  3. The American Physical Society has several efforts to understand the issues surrounding the participation of under-represented groups in the sciences was the recently completed project called Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics (SPIN-UP) organized by the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics (NTFUP) and supported by the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Institute of Physics, and the ExxonMobil Foundation.

    The APS Committee on Minorities (COM) works to increase the number of historically under-represented minorities, notably African-Americans, Hispanic, and Native Americans, who earn degrees in physics and pursue successful careers in physics in the United States. COM conducts site visits and offers a corporate-sponsored scholarship for minorities. Other programs include the annual Edward A. Bouchet Award, travel grants, and the Roster, which lists names and qualifications of over 3500 of women and minorities in Physics. The committee also supports the participation of the National Society of Black Physicists.

    The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) offers a variety of programs and publications to address the encouragement and career development of women in physics. These include site visits to assess the climate for women in physics departments, the Gazette newsletter, and travel grants. The Roster lists names and qualifications of over 3500 of women and minorities in Physics. At each March and April APS meeting, CSWP co-sponsors a reception with the COM.

  4. The American Psychological Association through the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs seeks 1) to increase the scientific understanding of how culture pertains to psychology, and ethnicity influences behavior, 2) promotes recruitment, retention, and training opportunities for ethnic minorities in psychology, 3) works to increase and enhance the delivery of appropriate psychological services to ethnic minority communities and encourages all psychologists to develop some minimal level of multicultural competence, and 4) seeks to promote both greater inclusion of ethnic minorities in organized psychology, and development of public policies that support the concerns of ethnic minority psychologists and their communities. Some of the specific programs administered by OEMA are the Diversity Project 2000 and Beyond (DP2KB), the APA/NIGMS Pipeline Project, and the CEMRRAT Implementation Grant Fund for the APA 5-Year Plan for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training, Other publication and efforts by the APA include Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists, and Model Strategies for Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Higher Education.