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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Leadership at the Academy

Over the Academy of Natural Sciences’ 200-year history, our cultural identity has mirrored the patterns of systemic racism and patriarchy typical of Western society. Like most natural history institutions founded in the 19th century, the Academy carries a burden of colonialism, misogyny and white supremacy. We continue to reflect on the present iteration of these patterns, especially as they shape the scientific enterprise.  

Learning to combat these longstanding equity issues has also made us mindful that many other groups are marginalized and excluded by our institutional and societal practices. Recognizing this, the Academy has made a comprehensive, long-term commitment to identify, interrogate, and correct inequities in its governance and operations.  

This commitment will progress the Academy beyond past actions and current challenges to proactively engage in strategies of inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and leadership (IDEAL). These strategies will address the full range of exclusions and marginalization that have been demonstrated by our institution. The framework of these strategies will include: 

  • Development of polices, practices and organizational culture that create and support a workplace and a public institution in which all staff, volunteers, students, partners and visitors are respected and valued, and in which differences and candor are welcomed and encouraged. 
  • Creating, supporting and adequately resourcing a system of organizational mechanisms to shape, guide and implement the Academy IDEAL goals. 
  • Explicit recognition, acknowledgement and correction of actions that do not meet the Academy’s IDEAL goals.  
  • Rigorously applying IDEAL goals to our external offerings, including research, educational program, public experience and public communications. 
  • Recognizing and deliberately stepping into the unique (and sometimes difficult) spaces of science, nature and the environment, ensuring that we are partnering with all our audiences to connect with science and nature in creative and impactful ways. 

We are committed to building IDEAL into all facets of our work and to demonstrating that the 21st century natural history museum should be — and will be — a central resource in building a more just, equitable and inclusive society. 

Work of the Academy IDEAL Charter Committee 

The Academy of Natural Sciences has embraced the core value that: IDEAL is Fundamental. Our IDEAL work will ensure that every single person at the Academy understands and supports our deep commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and access. We are committed to building IDEAL into all facets of our work and to partnering with our communities to connect with science and nature in creative and impactful ways.   

The responsibility of the IDEAL Charter Team is to review policies and procedures as they pertain to inclusion, diversity, equity, access and leadership and to develop and execute trainings and best practices around IDEAL work. The IDEAL Charter Team will work closely with the IDEAL Board Committee to address the following goals:  

  • Implement training to substantially advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the Academy   
  • Advance community-led programs using cross-functional OFBYFORALL processes   
  • Establish lifelong learning pathways (in-house)   
  • Engage existing and new donors to support transformation efforts   
  • Develop toolkits that systematize the processes associated with key current initiatives so that they can be shared and/or expanded regionally, nationally and, where appropriate, globally   

Who We Are 

Charter Team: The IDEAL Charter Team is comprised of a minimum of 12 members, representing full and part-time staff and Drexel University students. Membership is composed of representatives from each staff unit and different levels of responsibility, as well as students from Drexel’s BEES program or Westphal’s Arts Administration/Museum Leadership program who have completed at least one co-op cycle and are currently enrolled in a graduate program. Three officers of the charter team, including a chair, vice chair and coordinator, are tasked with developing agendas, taking minutes, facilitating meetings and liaising with the executive leadership team.  

Working Groups: Each member of the team is expected to actively serve on a subcommittee in the areas of training and events, Academy policies, DEI and Environmental Justice in Academy Science, communications and fundraising. Subcommittees are currently focused on onboarding and internal communications practices. Members also consult with Drexel’s Anti-Racist Task Force to identify priorities.  

IDEAL Board Committee: The IDEAL Committee is an Ad-hoc Committee of the Board established by Article V of the By-Laws. It reviews the Academy’s policies and procedures as they pertain to inclusion, diversity, equity, access and leadership and makes recommendation on trainings and best practices around IDEAL work, as well as to the Executive Committee and to the Board with respect to increasing and improving inclusion, diversity, equity, access and leadership at the Academy.  

IDEAL at Work

large group on stage at women in natural sciences 40th anniversary party

The Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences program celebrated 40 years of success in September 2022. Learn about the celebration, as well as how the program was honored with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.    

panel of birders in formal clothes on stage in auditorium

The Academy works in partnership with many local Black Birders who are creating communities around the city and region to support an incredibly important mission — getting everyone out and exploring the natural world, safely and together. Learn about this work and our Black Excellence in Birding event. The week of events was organized by a group of STEM professionals and students known as the BlackAFinSTEM Collective.  

two women with a child next to a car with a heat watch sticker

The Academy led a campaign to map heat and air quality in Philadelphia, working with community scientists so that residents have a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of climate change-preparedness strategies. Find out more about this project and the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color.

Your support makes all the difference.  

Please consider supporting the Academy’s work on inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and leadership.   

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Contact Us! 

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