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A faculty member shows students a piece of wood in a geology lab


At Oberlin, the HHMI team acknowledges that the pursuit of inclusive excellence will involve changes to pedagogy and content in addition to STEM climate in and beyond the classroom.


To promote institutional transformation, Oberlin's HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant will support seven STEM departments, along with funding from the Dean's office to support  a visiting faculty position, which will provide course release for continuing members of the faculty and teaching staff to participate in the Departmental Action and Reflection Teams (DARTs)

DART goals include:

  • increase the persistence of underrepresented minority students in STEM

  • Building reflective and iterative processes to promote inclusion;

  • Increasing individual, departmental, and institutional capacity for inclusion;

  • Changing department culture;

  • Changing introductory courses (curriculum and use of inclusive teaching practices); and

  • Changing roadblock courses (curriculum and use of inclusive teaching practices)

Data show that the largest loss of students occurs following the introductory course and that increasing students sense of belonging and efficacy are important to retaining students in a major.

Expectations of DARTS during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2020 academic years:

  • Meet weekly, completing relevant readings on topics such as the theory of organizational change, stereotype threat and implicit bias, racism, classism and sexism, and core social motives.

  • DART teams participate in monthly meetings with other DARTs and/or faculty at Kenyon College, a member of Oberlin's peer implementation cluster.

  • Spend approximately three to four hours per week on DART activities over the course of the DART year.

  • Follow the DART Syllabus to inform discussions around visioning and planning

DART Year 2020-2021

  • Computer Science

  • Geosciences (Geology)

  • Psychology

 DART Year 2021-2022

  • Biochemistry & Chemistry

  • Biology

  • Mathematics

  • Neuroscience

 DART Year 2022-2023

  • Physics and Astronomy


As part of the DART process, the HHMI Initiative at Oberlin intended to further the development and education of DART participants through a workshop led by Science Museum of Minnesota's IDEAL Center held during August 2020. This workshop has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Within departments, DART​ years will involve four phases of visioning and change:

Phase 1: Information Gathering and Visioning

At the start of the fall semester, DART members will inform themselves about: a) the current situation in their department or curricular area, and b) best practices related to inclusive excellence. This process will include review of institutional data and departmental assessment. Participant will also be expected to conduct reading of relevant literature on organizational change; stereotype threat and imposter syndrome; racism, sexism and classism in educational structures; and inclusive teaching practices. DARTs will formulate a vision statement based on their findings. 

Phase 2: Idea generation

In the second half of the fall semester, DART groups will begin developing ideas that advance the vision statement, including both brainstorming and evaluative phases. A short list of initial ideas will be shared across departments. 

Phase 3: Optimization

During the start of the spring semester, the top several ideas from the shortlist will be judged generatively against the criteria for success laid out in the vision statements. Based on feedback and discussion throughout the broader

HHMI community at Oberlin, DARTs will

select the appropriate approach(es) to


Phase 4: Implementation Planning

Planning will extend from mid-spring semester

until the end of the academic year. DARTs will

develop implementation and assessment plans

to achieve their vision statements, and the

beginning phases of these plans will be put in

place during the following year.



This is not an exhaustive list, all of the DARTs are actively continuing to make adjustments, large and small, to their departments!

  • Updated tenure and promotion forms

    • New question added about faculty pedagogical innovations – including those related to inclusive learning!

    • Revised existing question about service to the College to include faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and support for underrepresented students.

  • Redesigned introductory courses in: Computer Science, Geosciences, Psychology, and Math. Some of the changes made include:

    • Decreasing class size

    • Increased focus on real world problems

    • Simplified and clarified lab instructions​

    • Increased active learning 

  • Implementation of community norms across DART departments

  • New courses being offered which highlight & emphasize DEI Issues

  • Greater student engagement and integration into departmental change processes

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