The Department of Cognitive Science at JHU stands with the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black lives matter. Just as cognitive science draws its strength from the diversity of intellectual traditions that each contribute to our understanding of the mind/brain, we are convinced that societies must draw their strength from a diversity of cultures, each accorded equal respect and opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of all citizens. We stand in solidarity with Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities, which are not only underrepresented and otherwise disadvantaged in science, but also are disproportionately affected by police violence and systemic racism in many aspects of their lives.
The Diversity & Representation Committee (DRC) of the Department of Cognitive Science at JHU pursues initiatives that have several key goals, including increasing representation and support for individuals from minoritized groups at every level within the department; making the department climate more welcoming and safe for everyone, especially underrepresented groups in science; and taking school-wide and university-wide action to support anti-racist groups and policies. We are actively making an effort to increase representation at every level in our department.
To contact the committee about these initiatives, email the committee member(s) listed on the sidebar.
Hiring and Training
A primary goal of the department is to increase the diversity of department members at all levels, starting with the graduate students that make up the core of our program. We are also increasing support for graduate students at all stages, from the application process to navigating the process of beginning graduate school.
- Information sessions and mentoring for prospective students: Starting in the Fall 2020 application cycle, the department has held information sessions for prospective graduate students on the PhD program and application process. Our current graduate students also provide one-on-one mentoring about the application process, with priority given to prospective students from underrepresented groups.
- Changes to the PhD admissions process: Beginning with the 2020 admissions cycle, special attention has been given to the applications of first-generation college students and members of minoritized racial and ethnic groups. Additionally, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) has been suspended as a requirement for application to the PhD or Masters program for the upcoming application cycle.
Trainee Diversity and Outreach
We aim to provide opportunities for trainees at all levels, with particular focus on providing opportunities to high-schoolers and undergraduates to participate in research in the department.
- Disseminating information about research and graduate school in courses: We are encouraging instructors to discuss with their classes how to seek research opportunities and how to apply to graduate school; we have distributed slides and example syllabus sections that instructors can use for these discussions. The focus of these materials is to highlight lesser-known information that can make research and graduate school more accessible (e.g., that PhD programs generally pay a stipend) and to broaden participation in the department’s research opportunities.
- Providing summer internship opportunities for high-schoolers: Our department, in collaboration with Youthworks (a city organization focusing on employment development for Baltimore’s youth) and Thread (a nonprofit organization dedicated to building strong relationships among different community members), is offering paid summer internship opportunities for high-school students from Baltimore. The goal is to give these students the opportunity to better understand research work and academia and introduce them to fields they are not familiar with (e.g., Cognitive Science).
We are working to make the department climate more welcoming and safe for everyone.
- Mentoring for new PhD students: Each new PhD student is paired with a more senior PhD student mentor, with the pairings determined by background and research interests. This program gives new students an additional (and more informal) avenue for seeking guidance beyond faculty mentors, the Director of Graduate Studies, or the department chair. In the future we aim to expand this program to all new trainees, including masters students and research assistants.
- Department Climate Survey: In the Spring 2021 semester, graduate students and postdocs recently distributed a survey about department climate. The majority of trainees in the department completed the survey, and we have identified several areas within the department which we could improve in order to foster a more welcoming community. We have the goal of identifying how individual experiences vary based on identities that are underrepresented in the field. We will use these data to advocate for meaningful changes that foster a more inclusive and productive academic and social environment for trainees. This survey will be conducted regularly to monitor for changes in the department climate.
The department is promoting diversity and equity internally, via two paths: (1) ensuring diversity in the general colloquium series, and (2) creating a dedicated early career colloquium series to promote scientists from traditionally underrepresented groups in the early stages of their careers.
- Diversity in General Colloquium Series: The department is committed to increasing representation in our general colloquium series, by ensuring that our invited speakers include diverse scientists from minoritized groups. The general colloquium series features scientists who are more senior in their careers presenting current research on topics in and related to cognitive science.
- Early Career Colloquium (ECC) Series: The ECC series (starting in Spring 2021) highlights the work of early career researchers doing innovative work in cognitive science. In particular, we hope to recognize the research contributions of members of historically underrepresented groups in our field. Learn more about past ECC speakers: