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Projects & Initiatives

Howard Gobstein
Aspire Director

Kacy Redd, Ph.D.
Backbone Co-Lead

Jessica Bennett, Ph.D.
IChange Project Manager

Robin Parent, Ph.D.
Aspire Project Manager


Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty

APLU Impact

  • APLU and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) are leading the Aspire Alliance—a 5-year, $10 million NSF-funded effort to diversify STEM faculty and promote more inclusive teaching practices.
  • The Aspire Alliance is utilizing collaborative networks to help universities identify and implement the best practices to prepare, attract, and retain underrepresented STEM faculty.
  • The goal is to attract underrepresented students into STEM programs and help them graduate and succeed in the modern workforce.

ASPIRE Alliance logo

APLU and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are leading a collaborative effort with an array of groups and universities to diversify STEM faculty and ensure all STEM faculty use inclusive teaching practices. The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a five-year, $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant to support the effort.

The ultimate goal is to attract more underrepresented students—women, members of minority racial and ethnic groups, persons with disabilities, and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds—into STEM college programs, assist them to stay in these programs, and help them graduate and succeed in a modern STEM workforce.  The Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty believes a more diverse faculty using inclusive teaching practices is key to achieving a more diverse STEM student body.

The Aspire Alliance is pursuing three mutually reinforcing strategic goals—all focused on faculty.

  1. Prepare current and future STEM faculty to be more inclusive and effective in their undergraduate teaching, research mentoring, and advising;
  2. Diversify the faculty by effectively recruiting, hiring, and retaining underrepresented STEM faculty and transforming practices, policies, and resources to support these efforts; and
  3. Foster institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly.

Aspire’s Approach

The overarching strategy of the Aspire effort is to affect change by aligning and reinforcing professional development and hiring practices of STEM faculty at institutional, regional, and national levels.

  • Institutional Initiative: Building communities of practice, both within and across institutions, to address inclusive hiring and retention practices. Institutions are conducting self-assessment exercises and developing action plans within a cohort of institutions.
  • Regional Initiative: Building regional networks of 2- and 4-year institutions and the private sector. These groups are focusing on preparing, developing, and on-boarding skilled and diverse faculty in 2-year colleges where many underrepresented students begin higher education.
  • National Initiative: Developing resources about inclusive teaching, research mentoring, and advising while partnering with national organizations to promote these inclusive and diverse experiences.

Together, these efforts will create a national systemic change environment for STEM faculty.