- Alicia Hendrix, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW Seattle
- Erika Keim, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW Seattle
- Rebekah Petroff, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW Seattle
The University of Washington School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) spans multiple disciplines, employs faculty in over 75 research programs, and offers eleven graduate degrees. This diverse academic environment is rich for integrative conversation when leveraged, but without intention, there is risk of isolating students. Aiming to better integrate our diverse department environment, we designed and implemented a novel, student-run, intradepartmental Works in Progress Seminar (WIPS) series for the Fall 2019 quarter, in which students presented their developing research. This series not only targeted multidisciplinary collaboration, but also allowed for peer instruction, emulated professional conversations, and refined pedagogical skill, all of which support STEM-C field retention and career success. The WIPS series uniquely provides students with a professional platform consciously centering support and collaboration. This is done by featuring student leadership, honoring imperfection, and clearly stating agreed-upon guidelines for conduct at the start of each session (‘Community Agreements’).
The inaugural series hosted eleven student speakers representing eight different disciplines. Results from post-seminar surveys and anecdotal sharing suggest that the experience was positive and instructional. Seminars were attended by students, staff, postdocs, and faculty, with students composing ³57% of the audience at each session. Male-identified speakers were overrepresented relative to DEOHS student body demographics, suggesting a need to adapt recruitment strategies. WIPS is continuing in upcoming 2020 quarters, with this and other adaptations incorporating feedback on advertisement, timing, and partnership with other departmental events. Other STEM-C department faculty are encouraged to support the creation or expansion of similar programs by allowing students time and space to prepare and deliver such presentations. Teachers should also consider the incorporation of elements like Community Agreements established at course outset in order to center an inclusive, hypothesis-generating culture in a way otherwise unique to WIPS in our scholastic experience.