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Leadership program receives platinum national diversity award
A Bystander cohort (photo taken pre-COVID)

Leadership program receives platinum national diversity award

The FIU ADVANCE Bystander Leadership Program won the 2020 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Platinum Award in the category of Best Practices in Diversity Programming.

March 4, 2021 at 3:55pm

The FIU ADVANCE Bystander Leadership Program has been named the winner of the 2020 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Platinum Award in the category of Best Practices in Diversity Programming. Bystander is offered by the Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity (AWED).

CASE is a global non-profit association dedicated to educational advancement—alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services—who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.

Only one institution can receive a Platinum Award in each category per year, making this among the most prestigious awards that an institution can receive from CASE. More than 1,000 applications were submitted for consideration this year.

Bystander, FIU ADVANCE’s signature program, was developed under the direction of Vice Provost Suzanna Rose with the AWED faculty team. FIU ADVANCE is FIU’s institutional transformation project — funded by a five-year, $3.2 million National Science Foundation grant awarded in 2016 to develop innovative organizational change strategies across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and the social and behavioral sciences. 

“I’m very proud of our Bystander Leadership Program and of the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received, both from the faculty who have attended and from other institutions that are interested in our model," says Rose. "The sustained efforts of the AWED office, including Bystander, have led to real results and created momentum at FIU to increase inclusive excellence. I’m thrilled to have our work recognized on a national level.”

Bystander is intended to develop a social system at FIU that supports and institutionalizes positive change among faculty. It is comprised of two components: insight or “consciousness-raising” and action or active bystander intervention and prevention. The consciousness-raising component familiarizes faculty with concepts such as unconscious bias and intersectionality.

The active bystander intervention and prevention component provides experience with using a variety of behavioral interventions to reduce gender and race bias, including increasing knowledge of and confidence in using specific types of interventions and promoting diversity-affirming behaviors. During the one-day interactive workshop, facilitated by a faculty team, participants take part in skits with professional actors, case studies, and practiced role-play.

The skits and case studies used in Bystander were drawn from real-life experiences of FIU faculty. FIU ADVANCE staff conducted a number of interviews and focus groups with FIU faculty members. This research uncovered personal stories that revealed patterns of connections, influence, information flow, and exchange of resources that hamper the advancement of women faculty in STEM, and especially women from groups that have been underrepresented in academia. These stories were used to develop sketches focusing on culturally biased gender and race stereotypes that would be relevant to an international faculty body across all disciplines.

Almost four hundred faculty have participated in a Bystander workshop, which launched in Fall 2018. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. In a three-month follow-up survey, one faculty member said: “all faculty would really benefit from this kind of training program to help them understand various biases.” Another noted: “More than one person [in my department] has participated in the bystander training program, which I believe has led to a very responsibly written diversity plan.”