Events Calendar

Ed Bertschinger (MIT): How Departments Change: A Cautionary Example
Tuesday 06 April 2021, 12:00pm - 01:00pm

Among the major research universities in the 1970s and 1980s, MIT had an unusually large (though still small) percentage of women and African Americans as both faculty and students in its physics department. This talk discusses how this happened, why it ended, and how this information guided later change efforts. The answers go far beyond one physics department to include biologists, university presidents, and a US president.

Short bio:
Ed Bertschinger is a Professor of Physics at MIT with an affiliation in the MIT Program in Women’s and Gender Studies. He is a scholar-activist for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. During his 35 years on the MIT faculty, he learned quickly that the surest pathway to scientific achievement was through mentoring of his own graduate students and postdocs in theoretical astrophysics and cosmology. A passion for mentoring faculty led to his becoming the Department Head for six years during which he focused on improving equity, diversity, and inclusion. Following that service, Ed became MIT’s inaugural Community and Equity Officer from 2013–2018. He has served on numerous national committees and task forces on equity in physics and astronomy and in 2019 he co-founded an alliance of equity practitioners in the physical sciences. In addition to teaching and mentoring in physics, he teaches a popular course on science activism.


Location : Virtual