Centering Equity in Systemic Change: The Washington Community College Consortium for UGR & Equity

Irene Shaver
Program Manager for Experiential Learning
Bellevue College

The Washington Consortium for Undergraduate Research & Equity (WA-CURE) is an emergent collaboration of faculty and administrators serving the 34 institutions of the Washington state Community and Technical College (CTC) system. WA-CURE seeks to engender systemic change to the culture and organization of undergraduate research (UGR) to improve CTC student outcomes by expanding access and providing quality, discovery based learning opportunities. This workshop focuses on one of the most interesting but unresolved aspects of our work: we believe that systemic change is not likely unless we adjust the conditions and structures that limit innovation and equity at departmental, institutional, and cross institutional scales. Out of necessity, our effort to implement change on such a large scale relies heavily on our ability to leverage existing UGR resources within Washington state, and to learn from successful UGR programs throughout the country. However, we are increasingly aware that as we learn from existing systems to create scalable support for UGR at CTCs, we are also at risk of importing historical inequities into our nascent consortium. To create more equitable systems, we need to purposefully design them; we cannot expect to simply graft equity onto existing systems. In this workshop, we plan to share our insights and challenges, and invite you to join us in thinking through the following question: How can we balance the ethical need to build equitable systems from the ground up with the practical need to leverage existing resources to efficiently build new systems?