Workshop Summary

Workshop Summary

Group photoThe geosciences continue to lag behind other STEM disciplines in the engagement, recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations. The Sparks for Change program seeks to address this challenge by supporting early career minority faculty, providing leadership development toward diversity and inclusion, and providing actionable plans to change department-level culture to better value broadening participation efforts and build inclusive environments.The project aims to accomplish this goal by using small groups as change agents.

The NSF GOLD: Sparks for Change Institute occurred from September 18 – 20, 2017 at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, CO. The institute brought together eight triads (small groups) each containing Sparks – early-career faculty who desire to reshape their department to value broadening participation, Partners – later-career department chairs or tenured professors in the same department who desire to collaborate in innovative change-making, and Sponsors – preeminent broadening participation experts outside of the institutional department, with the idea that these triads of diversity champions are best suited to change departmental culture. The list of participants can be found below; the triads represented a range of institution types, from teaching to research-intensive, and minority- to majority- serving as well as a wide range of experiences and expertise, from geoscience to social science.

The participating triads joined with the PI team to engage in exercises designed to unlock the intrinsic leadership skills of the participants.

Day 1 of the institute was designed to help the participants learn about themselves and each other, independent of their triads, with the goal of forming a supportive community. Participants spent time identifying and discussing the obstacles to overcoming instituional inertia, and tapped into the wealth of expertise present at the institute to brainstorm a better future.

Using a theory of change whereby small groups of committed people with clear goals can alter institutions with otherwise diffuse benefits (Bergstom, 2010), Day 2 of the workshop focused on specific institutional knowledge and how different leadership behaviors could change those institutions.

Sparks were trained in adaptive leadership, a dynamic process of mutual influence used to impact their environment, while Partners learned about transformative leadership, through which leaders inspire others to achieve unexpected or remarkable results. Sponsors were engaged in a novel leadership framework called solidarity leadership, developed by PI Robert Kirsch. Solidarity leaders diminish isolation in group work, energize collaborators, intervene for the greater good where necessary, and unify disparate interests and individuals through their perspective and experience.

After discussions surrounding leadership capacity, the triad teams developed action plans, in the form of logic models, to specifically address opportunities and needs in their own departments. Day 3 included presentations from each triad whereby these action plans and were critiqued and improved upon through whole-group discussion.

In moving forward, the project will continue to monitor the implementation of the action plans with assistance from the Kansas State University Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation, and formative and summative evaluation of departmental climate will be tracked throughout the course of the project.



Colorado School of MinesFort Hays Triad

Spark: Whitney Trainor-Guitton Colorado School of Mines
Partner: John Bradford Colorado School of Mines
Sponsor: JW Wiley SUNY Plattsburgh

Fort Hays State University

Spark: Jeanne Sumrall Fort Hays State University
Partner: Hendratta Ali Fort Hays State University
Sponsor: Laura Crossey University of New Mexico

Kansas State UniversityKent State Triad

Spark: Karin Goldberg Kansas State University
Partner: Pamela Kempton Kansas State University
Sponsor: Kate Huntington University of Washington

Kent State University

Spark: Jeremy Williams Kent State University
Partner: Joseph Ortiz Kent State University
Sponsor: Terry McGlynn California State Dominguez Hills

Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLawrence Livermore National Laboratory Triad

Spark: Christina Morency Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Partner: Susan Carroll Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Sponsor: Paul Barber UCLA

University of California, Merced

Spark: Sora Kim University of California, Merced
Partner: Asmeret Asefaw Berhe University of California, Merced
Sponsor: Jill Karsten Retired

University of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignUC Merced Triad

Spark: Deanna Hence University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Partner: Nicole Riemer University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Sponsor: Joshua Villalobos El Paso Community College

Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras

Spark: Pablo Llerandi-Roman Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Partner: Lorna Jaramillo Nieves Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Sponsor: Christian Matheis Virginia Tech

PI Team:UIUC Triad

Bec Batchelor UCAR
John Crockett San Diego State University
Sennai Habtes University of the Virgin Islands
Brenee King Kansas State University
Robert Kirsch Arizona State University


Adam Cless Kansas State University
Allison Teeter Kansas State University