A new initiative at Arizona State University (ASU) is aiming to make STEM more inclusive. The Research for Inclusive STEM Education Center, or RISE, was founded by School of Life Sciences associate professor Sara Brownell and School of Sustainable Engineering associate professor Kristen Parrish, and it officially began operations in June 2020.

Topics that will be discussed include anti-racism, identifying inequities, and educating faculty on how they can better serve students.

RISE is the result of a year of planning and discussion and will spend the fall semester focusing on racial justice in academic biology, explored through seminars led by education scholars. There will also be listening sessions where BIPOC students can share their experiences.

“At ASU, we realized that there were a lot of folks interested in inclusion in undergraduate STEM education, but there was no central way for folks to communicate, to share new research findings, or to do cross-disciplinary studies,” Brownell tells We Rep STEM in an email.

“So the RISE Center was created partially to try to meet this void.”

While the RISE Center is primarily a research facility focused on inclusive STEM education, other goals include becoming a national hub, growing core faculty at ASU, and holding regular seminars and events. Diversity initiatives will include making STEM more accessible for disabled students, as per ASU website:

Moving forward Brownell and Parrish plan on continuing to host these kinds of events while also focusing their efforts on research. They are currently working on a National Science Foundation grant-funded project that addresses how students with disabilities at ASU and across the nation interact with active learning environments. 

“ASU is the perfect environment for a national hub focused on undergraduate STEM education,” Brownell says.

“[It] is defined not by who we exclude, by who we include and how they succeed. As such, we have a diverse student population, and inclusion is a core value at our institution. The rise of our online degree programs is in part motivated by this interest in broadening participation in undergraduate education. So, we are poised to potentially be a place that can be a national representative for how to foster the development of STEM scholars from diverse backgrounds.”

RISE events can be found on Twitter and the ASU website

“Anyone is invited to participate in our seminars, discussions, or listening sessions,” Brownell says.

“Some are geared more for students; some are more appropriate for instructors. But anyone is invited.”

In addition to attending sessions, education researchers or individuals who have an interest in conducting research related to inclusive STEM education are invited to contact center administrator Rachel Scott at rscott19@asu.edu.