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Injustices and systemic prejudice pervade the environmental and conservation movements, which have been shaped by a history of exclusion, colonialism, and privilege. The reality is that these movements have uprooted native peoples from their lands, marginalized environmental concerns of the underprivileged, and chronically excluded non-normative people along the lines of class, race, gender, orientations, ethnicities, and cultures. This history of injustice and exclusion are deeply embedded and hinder the environmental movement and its effort to include people of all colors, ethnicities, backgrounds, orientations, and identities. 

We as workers engaged in social and ecological reform are only beginning to come to terms with these injustices and resulting inequity. We know that progress necessitates having difficult conversations with ourselves about diversity, privilege, and inclusion. Addressing these challenges personally, locally, nationally, and globally will require new solutions and new collaborations across diverse social contexts, driven by authentic and enduring commitments to pluralism and social justice. Part of the solution, we believe, lies in educational practices that are more deeply rooted in communities and more committed to genuine dialogue and participation. We find hope in new approaches that bring people together to advance and just and sustainable future. 

Below are some of the steps we've taken and will continue. We welcome further ideas and have included contact emails below. 

Fundamentals. Project Dragonfly is resolved and engaged in dismantling the structures and forces of exclusion and oppression, particularly in our education systems and in the environmental and conservation movements. Every week, we are inspired by Dragonfly students, alumni, instructors, and partners who engaged deeply in communities, expand boundaries by interacting with diverse stakeholders, and work to ensure the types of inclusive spaces needed for civic participation and progress. To support these transformative interactions, our degree programs are uniquely designed from the group up to be do-delivered with pathbreaking community institutions, non-profits, and conservation organizations united in common cause to support community-engaged learning and shared action. Curricular elements specifically support this mission at the graduate level, including foundational courses in social and ecological inquiry, Community Engagement Labs, Inquiry Action Projects, community and authorship Leadership Challenges, and engaged Master Plans. We believe participatory learning, particularly when focused on community solutions, is an essential building block for inclusive and just educational systems. In this context, the broader reform goal is not only to bring new voices to the table, but to collaboratively redesign the table itself. 

Student Recruitment. Since the inception of its master's degrees in 2009, Project Dragonfly has implemented policies directly focused on reaching students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Beginning in 2018, Dragonfly additionally connected with state and regional organizations for bilingual education, more than 100 colleges and universities notable for their high minority enrollment, and many additional organizations that have underrepresented minorities as members. In 2017, 14.2 percent of the students admitted to Dragonfly master's programs identified as African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. In 2020, that percentage had increased to 21.4 percent. Most of our admitted students identify as female, consistent with trends of women in the life sciences and educational fields. 

Students, Staff, Curriculum, and Program. Current instructors and full-time staff complete Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training, and staff members continue to seek additional DEI training. A student-led cooperative of Project Dragonfly students, alumni, staff, and affiliates formed and is committed to diversity and inclusion both within the program itself and in the greater conservation and education fields. We inaugurated Dragonfly Diversity Cafes to showcase inspirational experiences and perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion-related topics in environmental and conservation settings. In accordance with Miami's strategic Diversity Plan, Dragonfly continues to investigate how to further integrate DEI ideas into its curriculum. We recently identified new curricular opportunities to integrate DEI-related topics in our core courses, and we update curricular materials regularly to engage historical and contemporary issues in social and environmental justice. Dragonfly programs also continue to benefit from the invaluable ideas, perspectives, learning approaches, and curricular innovations introduced by the community institutions across the U.S and global partner network. 

A note to students of overexcluded peoples and groups

For many of you, these struggles and inequalities are deeply personal and lived through experiences in your communities in the US and in other places. We recognize the power of your experiences in guiding us in this conversation. If you belong to a marginalized group, have been subjected to exclusionary behavior, or have overcome obstacles in order to pursue social and environmental justice for your communities, we welcome your active participation in DEI in our program and in the environmental movement. We recognize that diverse perspectives come from all different backgrounds: African American, Native American, Latin American, Asian (all parts of Asia!), indigenous/tribal, etc. We also recognize that diverse perspectives also come from orientations and identities (LGBTQ+). Your lived experience and unique perspectives will enrich our thinking and work on DEI efforts. In addition, we invite you to participate in the URM (underrepresented minority) student group, Project Diversifly (current students are encouraged to email any of the contacts below to join this group).


Professional DEI Groups

***Help us grow this list! If you have a group to add, please email us (contacts below).


If you are interested in or have ideas to support Dragonfly's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives, please contact a Dragonfly adviser at Miami University: 

-Jamie Bercaw Anzano at

-Katie Feilen at

-Jill Korach at

-Kevin Matteson at

-Karen Plucinski at

-Amy Sullivan at 


Environmentally-focused DEI Readings

Agyeman, J., Schlosberg, D., Craven, L., & Matthews, C. (2016). Trends and Directions in Environmental Justice: From Inequity to Everyday Life, Community, and Just Sustainabilities. Annual Review of Environment and Resources41, 231-340.

Author Unknown. (2020, October 7). Pride Month, LGBTQ+ and the Environmental Movement. Endangered Species Coalition.

Baker, K., Eichhorn, M. P., & Griffiths, M. (2019). Decolonizing field ecology. Biotropica53(3), 288-292.

Baron, J. (2019, December 11). Traditional diversity training doesn’t work. Why not? And what does? Diversity Jobs.

Berryman, M., SooHoo, S., Nevin, A., Barrett, T. A., Ford, T., Nodelman, D. J., Valenzuela, N., & Wilson, A. (2013). Culturally Responsive Methodologies at Work in Education Settings. International Journal for Researcher Development

Brady, A., Torres, A., & Brown, P. (2019, August 9). What the queer community brings to the fight for climate justice. Grist.

Carroll, C. (2014). Native enclosures: Tribal national parks and the progressive politics of environmental stewardship in Indian Country. Geoforum53, 31-40. ScienceDirect.

Center for Integrative Conservation Research. (n.d.). University of Georgia.

Chang, E. H., Milkman, K. L., Gromet, D. M., Rebele, R. W., Massey, C., Duckworth, A. L., & Grant, A. M. (2019). The mixed effects of online diversity training. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences116(16), 7778-7783.

de Vos, A. (2020, July 1). The Problem of ‘Colonial Science’. Scientific American.

Dorceta E. Taylor. (n.d.). School for Environment and Sustainability University of Michigan Faculty.

Dowie, M. (2011). Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples. The MIT Press.

Fears, D., & Mufson, S. (2020, July 22). Liberal, progressive — and racist? The Sierra Club faces its white-supremacist history. The Washington Post.

Finney, C. (2014). Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. University of North Carolina Press.

Freire, P. (1993). Chapter 2. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum Books.

Gillen, J. (2014). Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty. AK Press.

Gillen, J. (2019). The Power in the Room: Radical Education Through Youth Organizing and Employment. Beacon Press.

Gokkon, B. (2018, July 12). ‘Decolonizing conservation’: Q&A with PNG marine activist John Aini. Mongabay.

Gould, R. K., Phukan, I., Mendoza, M. E., & Ardoin, N. M. (2018). Seizing opportunities to diversify conservation. Conservation Letters, (11).

Hooks, B. (2003). Talking Race and Racism. In Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (pp. 25-40). Routledge.

Jones, M. S., & Solomon, J. (2019). Challenges and supports for women conservation leaders. Conservation Science and Practice36.

Jones, R. (2020, July 29). The environmental movement is very white. These leaders want to change that. National Geographic.

Kantai Duff, R. (2020, November 19). Building a road to recovery for subtle racism in conservation (commentary). Mongabay.

Lane, M. B., & Corbett, T. (2005). The Tyranny of localism: Indigenous participation in community-based environmental management. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning7(2), 141-159. Taylor & Francis Online. 10.1080/15239080500338671

Mason, C. (2018, November 29). Indigenous protected areas are the next generation of conservation. The Conversation.

Mitten, D., Gray, T., Allen-Craig, S., Loeffler, T., & Carpenter, C. (2018). The invisibility cloak: Women's contributions to outdoor and environmental education. Journal of Environmental Education49(4), 318-327.

Muhammad, G. (2020). Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework. Scholastic.

Neeley, L., Barker, E., Bayer, S., Maktoufi, R., Wu, K. J., & Zaringhalam, M. (2020). Linking Scholarship and Practice: Narrative and Identity in Science. Front. Commun5(35). 10.3389/fcomm.2020.00035

Purifoy, D. (22, June 2018). On the Stubborn Whiteness of Environmentalism. Inside Higher Ed.

Puritty, C., Strickland, L. R., Aila, E., Blonder, B., Klein, E., Kohl, M. T., McGee, E., Quintana, M., Ridley, R. E., Tellman, B., & Gerber, L. R. (2017). Without inclusion, diversity initiatives may not be enough. Science357(6356), 1101-1102.

Ragen, B. (2017, June 28). Being queer in the jungle: The unique challenges of LGBTQ scientists working in the field. Research in progress blog.

Resources Radio. (2020, June 23). The Challenge of Diversity in the Environmental Movement, with Dorceta Taylor. Resources.

Ruiz-Mallén, I., & Corbera, E. (2013). Community-Based Conservation and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Implications for Social-Ecological Resilience. Ecology and Society18(4), 12.

Sautner, S. (2018, July 16). Study: Indigenous peoples own or manage at least one quarter of world's land surface.

Tallis, H., & Lubchenco, J. (2014). Working together: A call for inclusive conservation. Nature515(7525), 27-28. 10.1038/515027a

Taylor, D. E. (1997). American Environmentalism: The Role of Race, Class and Gender in Shaping Activism 1820-1995. Race, Gender & Class5(1), 16-62. JSTOR.

Taylor, D. E. (2016). The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection. Duke University Press.

Taylor, D. E. (2018). Racial and ethnic differences in the students’ readiness, identity, perceptions of institutional diversity, and desire to join the environmental workforce. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences8, 152-168. SpringerLink.

Toomey, D. (2018, June 21). How Green Groups Became So White and What to Do About It. Yale Environment 360.

Tschirhart, C., Mistry, J., Berardi, A., Bignante, E., Simpson, M., Haynes, L., Benjamin, R., Albert, G., Xavier, R., Robertson, B., Davis, O., Verwer, C., de Ville, G., & Jafferally, D. (2016). Learning from one another: evaluating the impact of horizontal knowledge exchange for environmental management and governance. Ecology and Society21(2). JSTOR.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2013). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. ZED Books.

What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? (n.d.). Center for Humans & Nature.

Contact Project Dragonfly

111 Upham Hall
Oxford, Ohio
Est. 1994