University of Wisconsin–Madison

Geography Department Climate Committee

Values Statement

Adopted October 7, 2019

The Department of Geography is committed to fostering inclusive learning and working environments that embrace the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and interests represented in our communities and the broader world. We value diversity, equity, inclusion, interdisciplinarity, transparency, shared decision-making, and accessibility as integral components of excellence in teaching, scholarship, service and outreach.

We recognize that we live in a world of systemic inequalities, oppressions, and exclusions that are encoded in the structures, policies, practices, traditions, and procedures of our discipline and our academic institutions. Therefore, the Department seeks to promote open, critical dialogues and practices aimed at dismantling past and present injustices and at addressing social and environmental challenges. As geographers, we support pedagogies that seek to understand and challenge inequities and oppression in their multiple manifestations in and out of the classroom, in online learning spaces, in the field, on campus, in our professional organizations, and in our broader communities. We believe that these pedagogies can support transformative justice within and beyond the academy.

We recognize that our community, scholarship, teaching and public work is stronger through the participation of individuals with different perspectives and backgrounds who can offer creative problem-solving strategies. We seek to improve inclusion, transparency, and shared decision-making within our community and to provide a welcoming atmosphere for all students, scholars and staff in which to thrive. We commit to cultivating a working and learning environment that does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and exploitation.

The Department of Geography commits to advancing these values in several ways including and not limited to:

  • Establishing and maintaining a permanent departmental climate committee, with representatives from across the department;
  • Meaningfully expanding the inclusion of minoritized and marginalized groups in the Department, the discipline and profession of geography, and in academia through active improvement in recruitment, retention, and advancement efforts;
  • Increasing the representation and participation of different groups in Department activities, including governance, through reassessment and revision of policies and practices;
  • Offering courses that engage centrally with diverse cultures and values and equity concerns;
  • Producing research that addresses issues of social and environmental justice in a diverse range of communities located domestically and internationally;
  • Advancing ethical practices in publicly engaged scholarship, education, outreach, and research;
  • Integrating values of diversity, equity, inclusion, transparency, shared decision-making and accessibility into the Department’s practices that support ethically-informed teaching, research, service, leadership, and outreach;
  • Reevaluating departmental needs through regular surveys ​of its community, policies, and practices.


(Parts of this values statement were modified from language used by the School of Geography and Development at Arizona State University) 


Climate Committee Description 

In Fall 2018, the Department formally established a Climate Committee (CC), with representation from undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty, to coordinate work towards these goals. Climate-related work that provided an important baseline for the CC occurred prior to 2018 on an ad-hoc basis. The CC was developed not to serve as a grievance body but to identify priorities for action in response to graduate student, faculty and staff climate surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017. In its first year, the climate committee wrote a values statement and developed a set of priorities for action.  

Current priorities of the Climate Committee include:

  • Assessing Department policies of participation and governance and recommending best practices for inclusion;
  • Identifying and advancing best practices for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring, promotion, evaluation, and professional development;
  • Developing Department procedure for grievances and educate Department on University’s policies and procedures;
  • Developing recommendations for student recruitment, admissions, support and mentoring at all levels;
  • Transforming Department physical and online space to be more inclusive, representative, and accessible; and
  • Identifying and sharing existing campus and national resources for Department member education on diversity, equity, and inclusion.