Frequently Asked Questions

Inclusive Excellence at Cal State LA

What is the HHMI IE grant at Cal State LA?

HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant is a $1 million grant awarded to Cal State LA for 5 years. The grant began fall 2018 (Year 1) and will end in spring 2023 (Year 5). Since the overarching goal of the HHMI IE grant is toinstitutionalize change towards inclusive excellence, this grant is not renewable.


What are the goals of the HHMI IE grant at Cal State LA?

The goals of the proposal are to:

  1. Establish an equity-focused professional development program for faculty in STEM.
  2. Increase student engagement and foster the development of students’ college identity by a) building a community of practice and b) developing a program and web portal/App we call “Science Campus Activities for Fostering Engagement” (Sci-CAFÉ).
  3. Ensure sustainable institutional development across all administrative units at Cal State LA.

The overarching goal is to transform the teaching and learning environment at Cal State LA such that faculty and students together, encouraged by administrative personnel and policies, create a learning community that is competent, inclusive, engaged, and culturally relevant. We anticipate that these and other high impact practices will lower the achievement gap.  

Our initial objective was to build capacity to effectively engage all students in science throughout their undergraduate years. We have now expanded our objective so that a culture of equity and inclusion is established across the institution. This includes enriching equity mindsets in all faculty, enhancing a sense of belonging and improving science literacy in all students, and examining and remediating policies, procedures and business practices as an institution so that together we can eliminate the equity gap. Read the original abstract of this grant here.


What are the intended outcomes of the HHMI IE grant at Cal State LA?

Transformed Learners Transform Learners. We envision a project where transformed learners (all faculty) are empowered to transform learners (all students). Our overarching goal is to eliminate this achievement gap through transformed pedagogy that reaches all students, particularly Latinx and African American students.

We define “transformed teaching” as a set of pedagogical practices that are:

  • inclusive and welcoming
  • equity-minded
  • culturally relevant and sustaining
  • reflective and evidence-based

Here we define “transformed learning” in science as:

  1. increased scientific literacy,
  2. stronger scientific identity and sense of belonging, and,
  3. increased student engagement.


What personnel are involved? What does the chain of command look like?

The initial principal investigator on this grant was Andre Ellis. Krishna Foster became the director in July 2021. Our Leadership Team meets regularly to discuss the goals of this grant. To see a complete list of the HHMI Leadership Team, please click here.


    What activities will be implemented?

    Instituting an equity-focused professional Faculty Learning Community (FLC) for faculty in collaboration with the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California. The strategy includes a “train-the-trainer” model to bring together more than 74 faculty and chairs with the leadership and capacity to change pedagogy, curriculum, and programs, and influence academic policy. This faculty training program in inclusive excellence will be institutionalized by the University’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning. We anticipate that the College and University will sustain the changes by incentivizing all tenure-line and part-time faculty to attend these training programs and inform/transform their pedagogy at the outset.

    Increasing student engagement and fostering the development of students’ college identity by a) building a community of practice and b) promoting and incentivizing science engagement via a program and web portal/App we call “Science Campus Activities for Fostering Engagement” (Sci-CAFÉ).


    What is the timeline for the accomplishments/implementation?

    The grant was awarded in 2018 with the following tentative timeline:













    HHMI IE Leadership Team

    Training with CUE / UC Berkeley

    FLC with help from first cohort

    FLC for STEM faculty (CETL)

    Marketing of FLC to all campus

    Equity-minded Faculty

    Research / Data Analysis

    Pilot Surveys and Faculty Focus Groups

    Surveys and Data Collection


    Research Dissemination

    Sci-CAFÉ App

    Development & Preview


    Faculty Training

    Full Implementation


    Overview of HHMI Inclusive Excellence (IE) Program.

    What is the overall purpose of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence (IE) grant?

    According to the HHMI website, this grant “challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably increase their capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those students who belong to groups underrepresented in science.”

    It aims “to create a learning community of college and university faculty and administrators who are engaged in the continuing process of increasing their institution’s capacity for inclusion of all students. Each school in the community will commit to learning through reflection, sharing what is being learned, listening to feedback, and supporting other members of the community.” For more information click here.


    How long has the HHMI Inclusive Excellence (IE) program been around?

    Since fall 2017, a total of 87 colleges and universities are now part of the IE Learning Community. Faculty and staff at these schools provide national leadership in science education, and are engaged in exploring strategies that will lead to inclusive science education. A third competition, IE3, which began in the spring 2019, is the newest cohort.


    Cal State LA HHMI IE Details

    How does Cal State LA compare with other universities awarded an HHMI IE grant?

    Of the 57 schools selected to participate in this program, Cal State LA is one of fourteen schools that serve significant numbers of students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education.


    Why is Cal State LA involved in this program?

    Despite being a minority/Hispanic serving institution (MSI/HSI) for several decades, Cal State LA follows a similar national trend in STEM equity. Like other institutions, we too have a low overall graduation rate in the sciences, STEM dropout/transfer occurs at significant rates, and most importantly, there is a significant achievement gap between students from groups historically underrepresented (African American, Latinx, etc.) and other ethnicities.


    What does the Center for Urban Education at USC provide?

    The Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California serves as a consultant under this grant and provides a series of faculty workshops centered around equity. The Faculty Workshop Series consists of six workshops for Cal State LA faculty members to be held during Year 1 of the grant (AY2018-19). During Year 2 (AY2019-20), four face-to-face follow-up sessions will be held with the faculty participants. The inquiry-based workshops in this program will a) identify educational inequities experienced by historically underrepresented student groups, b) use CUE’s inquiry strategies and tools to examine critically the ways in which faculty mindsets and educational practices contribute to those inequities, and c) transform those mindsets and practices. We anticipate that these and other high impact practices will lower the achievement gap.


    Is the Cal State LA IE Leadership Team only seeking training and support from CUE?

    No. While CUE is providing Cal State LA faculty informational workshops centered around equity related to race, our HHMI IE grant aims to include additional inquiry-based models and reflective faculty development with the goal of changing faculty mindsets and redressing largely ineffective prior practices, e.g., deficit-minded pedagogy. To this end, in addition to CUE we will draw on resources from AAC&UPKAL, other institutions (UC Berkeley, etc.) and our own CETL.

    Finally (and as part of this grant), Cal State LA collaborates with other HHMI IE institutions that have been engaged in the work of building capacity for inclusion and equity for all students in science. As a part of this learning community, we exchange strategies and experiences, approaches for ongoing assessment and evaluation, and resources developed by the IE institutions. This takes place through i) annual IE community meetings at HHMI; ii) smaller, regional gatherings of Peer Implementation Clusters (PICs); and iii) via an online listserv for Program Directors. HHMI provides additional funds to support annual gatherings of PICS.  In addition, HHMI gives Cal State LA a yearly opportunity to communicate and share reflections and ongoing lessons learned and where necessary, recalibrate approaches. We also have an opportunity to present our work to a network of higher education stakeholders committed to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in science through national conferences and other gatherings. 


    What are the CUE equity workshops?

    The six workshops are:

    1. Equity and Equity-mindedness 
    2. Identifying Equity Gaps and Setting Equity Goals
    3. Reflective Practice and Inquiry as a Means to Create Equity in STEM
    4. Syllabus Review Workshop
    5. Becoming an Institutional Agent
    6. Creating and Sustaining Equity-minded Change


    Questions regarding the Workshops

    Can I still participate even if I'm not currently teaching a course?

    Yes, if you have taught in the past, we welcome you. You will simply use one of your previous syllabi. In addtion, we encourage you to apply what you've learned from your teaching experience and participate in the dialogue to others.