The School of Information Sciences (SIS) is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all. Our commitment to promote, protect, and ensure diversity is rooted in the belief that a diverse society, and diverse information professoriate, are essential for the free exchange of ideas, knowledge creation, research, academic freedom, personal and professional growth, cooperation and success in both local and global contexts.
We believe it is critical for information professionals to have diverse perspectives in order to have the compassion and empathy needed to effectively serve their communities, and make a positive impact on society.
SIS supports a number of initiatives and activities to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive learning environment for all members of our community. Our work is guided by the Diversity and Inclusion Statement of the School of Information Sciences, adopted in September 2007, and reaffirmed annually.
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SIS appoints a faculty member to serve as Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Their role is to monitor and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in curricular and co-curricular opportunities and initiatives at SIS. Our current Diversity and Inclusion Officer is Devendra Potnis.
Please reach-out to them if you would like to discuss any issue related to diversity, equity and inclusion at SIS.
Our Diversity & Inclusion Stories at SIS
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award: This award recognizes the student’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as exemplified by their scholarship, professional service, and reflective participation while enrolled in a degree program at the School of Information Sciences. Begun in fall 2018 under the previous name, Diversity & Inclusion Badge, the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award is conferred annually to graduating BSIS and MSIS students. BSIS students receive the award at the College’s Honors Convocation, typically held in April, and MSIS students receive the award at the MSIS Hooding Ceremony, typically held in May.
Scholarships: Competitive scholarships offered by SIS are open to all applicants regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or veteran status. Several scholarships are particularly focused on diversity and equity. This includes awards for MSIS students made through the John C. Tyson Minority Fellowship Endowment, the Carmen L. Moulton Memorial Endowment, the Jane Moulton Ray Scholarship Fund, and the John C. Winslow Scholarship.
Curricular and Co-Curricular Activities: The School’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in several of our MSIS and BSIS program outcomes:
- Apply the general principles, values, and ethical standards of providing information services in a variety of settings and for diverse populations.
- Comply with the changing responsibilities of the information professional in a culturally diverse and networked global society.
- Identify critical professional issues in a variety of organizational, cultural, societal, disciplinary, transdisciplinary, and historical contexts.
Events are held throughout the year to foster and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. This includes invited guest speakers who share their perspectives, research, and initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion in the information sciences. Additionally, SIS participates in the College of Communication and Information’s Diversity and Inclusion Week. The four-day event offers participants an opportunity to gain diversity skills and knowledge along with a chance to dialogue about diversity and inclusion issues, and to share best practices by bringing together leaders and experts from inside and outside the school, college and university.
The College of Communication and Information (CCI) consists of SIS and three other schools: Advertising and Public Relations, Communication Studies, and Journalism and Electronic Media. CCI’s commitment to diversity, reflected in the CCI diversity statement, is demonstrated through committee work, events and action plans, including:
- CCI Diversity and Inclusion Week, held annually in September
- CCI Experiences Diversity Banquet, held annually in the spring, featuring the presentation of the CCI Diversity Award
- CCI Diversity Committee, comprised of faculty and staff, reviews and makes recommendations to further the College’s diversity efforts.
- Diversity Student Leaders Society, comprised of CCI students, serves to prepare today’s students to serve as diversity leaders and champions through a variety of initiatives, including the Student Mentoring Program and Diversity Speakers Program.
- Diversity Action Plans for CCI, Advertising & Public Relations, Communication Studies, Information Sciences, and Journalism & Electronic Media
The University of Tennessee (UT) enrolls approximately 29,000 under-graduate and graduate students at its Knoxville campus; 24% of all students identify as non-white, and 24% identify as first-generation students. Among under-graduates, 29% are Pell grant eligible. The University culture is guided by adherence to core values that define the Volunteer spirit, including advancing diversity and inclusion and engaging locally and globally.
The Division of Diversity and Engagement works across campus and in our communities to create and sustain a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for all students, faculty and staff. Their website contains extensive information and resources. Within this division is the Office of Equity & Diversity (OED). OED responds and investigates bias-related incidents. If you have witnessed or been a victim of a bias-based incident at the University, please see the Bias Education and Referral webpage on how to report an incident.
Teaching and Learning Innovation at UT provides many resources in support of inclusive teaching and learning, including the Inclusive Teaching Toolbox. Additionally, the Office of Multicultural Student Life provides an Allyship and Antiracism Reading List. For other resources and various initiatives from across UT, see the university’s A to Z Diversity Index. Included are:
- Black Cultural Planning Committee at the Office of Multicultural Student Life
- Commission for Blacks
- Commission for LGBT People
- Commission for Women
- Diversity Committee at University Libraries
- Multicultural Student Organizations
- Pride Center
- Veteran Student Services
To foster awareness, collaboration, networking and professional development, the University is host to events throughout the year, including:
- Black Issues Conference, hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Life:
- Diversity Dialogue Symposium, hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Life
- Diversi-Tea held throughout the year to promote inclusive teaching practices, hosted by Teaching & Learning Innovation
The University also supports cross-disciplinary research and collaboration through the Communities of Scholars (CoS) Program, including:
- Intersectionality Community of Scholars
- Appalachian Community of Scholars
- Critical Race Collective Community of Scholars
The University also supports funding opportunities in support of diversity, inclusion and equity for academic departments, faculty, staff and student organizations, including:
The University is located in the city of Knoxville in Knox County. There are many organizations providing services and championing diversity, equity and inclusion in our local and regional communities. The University Libraries at the University of Tennessee provides a listing of these organizations, including:
- 100 Black Men of Knoxville
- Beck Cultural Exchange Center
- Bridge Refugee Services, Inc.
- Centro Hispano de East Tennessee
- East Tennessee Chinese Association:
- Knox Pride
- Knoxville Area Urban League
- Knoxville Chinese Culture.Org
- Knoxville Jewish Alliance
- Muslim Community of Knoxville
- Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce also supports a variety of diversity and inclusion programs for local businesses.
The School of Information Sciences willingly complies with applicable laws adopted by the University of Tennessee regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. Visit the Office of Equity and Diversity website to view the details of UT’s Equal Employment Opportunity/Non-Discrimination/Affirmative Action Statement.