Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Institute for Human Development was recently selected as the regional leader for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Alliance of Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking, and Transition Opportunities in STEM.
The alliance, which includes dozens of organizations and higher education institutions, is designed to increase the participation and representation of students with disabilities in STEM educational programs and the workforce. Participating students will have increased access to peer and faculty mentorship, internship, apprenticeship, and STEM employment opportunities through the program.
“The students questioned power dynamics embedded in mentee and mentor relationships and considered identity from an intersectional lens,” program coordinator Jade Metzger-Riftkin said in a press release. “They wanted the program to suit all NAU students from any background with any disability.”
The alliance was created in 2021 through a $10 million NSF grant awarded to Auburn University (AU). AU has recruited several institutions to participate, including NAU, which will serve as the alliance’s Mountain Hub — one of five regional centers throughout the country.
The initiative also provides related professional development opportunities to faculty, staff, and STEM professionals who want to improve their support for students with disabilities.
“The research will use a lens of intersectionality, investigating disconnections and gaps between student experiences of bias, discrimination and stigma; the information and messaging available to faculty and staff of institutions of higher education as it pertains to inclusion and recognizing intersectionality; and the perceptions of faculty and staff of institutions of higher education that perpetuate bias, discrimination and stigma,” Jenson said in the release.