Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are highly valued principles at the USC Center for AI in Society (CAIS) and are critical to our pursuit of academic excellence. In particular we aim to encourage a culture in which every member of CAIS feels valued, supported and inspired to achieve individual and common goals, no matter his/her/their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, immigration status, age, disability status, class, economic background, education, color, family structure, background, experience, or beliefs. This includes providing opportunity and access for persons in engineering and social work from historically under-represented or underserved groups. We recognize the need for research centers like CAIS to not only take a stance on critical social issues, but also to actively engage in dialogue and action on these issues.
Research & Community Partners
Research projects are selected based on their alignment with the USC CAIS mission. As such, we view community partners and domain experts as being integral to the research. We strive to include community partners in setting the agenda for our research activities. We value the expertise and insight that community partners offer, and include them throughout the research process including planning, implementation, and dissemination of findings. Just as important, our community partners are selected based on their commitment to social justice, public service, and a mission that aligns with the USC CAIS mission.
We commit to working with community partners who support the wellbeing of persons from marginalized, vulnerable, and diverse populations. We understand that engineering and social work research can contribute to problems facing these communities. We also believe that engineering and social work research can work with communities to solve problems. We strive to involve our community partners and those impacted by the systems we design in the research process, such as helping us to understand how data was collected, any potential shortcomings of the data we use (e.g., bias, noise), and ensuring the systems we design perform as planned and intended when deployed.
Education/Faculty, Staff, & Student Diversity
Our faculty and students engage in a variety of events and partnerships with local schools in order to address the STEM pipeline issue for those who are historically excluded from STEM spaces. Because of CAIS’ physical location in Los Angeles, we are well positioned and committed to positively impacting historically underrepresented students in STEM. We also have a seminar series, and we are committed to inviting diverse speakers from academia to be highlighted. We strive to create learning opportunities for the CAIS community that reflect our commitment to DEI. We hope that these experiences enhance students’ ability for self-reflection, civil discourse, and advocacy with respect to the relevance of DEI in STEM.
In addition, CAIS values having a staff and student body that includes persons from historically under-represented and marginalized backgrounds, including women in STEM, Black, Indigenous, people of color, sexual minority individuals, gender minority individuals, persons with disabilities, persons regardless of their immigration status, social class, or religious affiliation, and age.
Diversity is not the only goal. We recognize that diversity is necessary but not sufficient by itself. We strive to promote equity and inclusivity for all who are involved with or impacted by CAIS. CAIS is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable environment for all of its faculty, staff, students, and collaborators. We will achieve this by:
- Broadening participation in dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion through research, education, and outreach.
- Listening to and acting on any concerns related to DEI both within CAIS and in the community.
- Creating a culture of understanding and inclusion through our language and actions.
In an effort to become a more inclusive center and workplace, we developed the following goals and commitments to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion at USC CAIS. The following list has been created collaboratively and reflects priorities and feedback shared by faculty, students, and staff.
- Maintain DEI Group Meetings (semi-annual) to ensure accountability to our DEI statement and goals.
- Reporting – Internally keep track and review our center’s workforce diversity data and breakdowns by race and gender to maintain accountability.
- Accommodate and encourage all CAIS members to attend university-wide, community sponsored, or other DEI-related trainings/webinars.
As we anticipate changes to be made, and details to be added and clarified, we will continue to work towards bettering our DEI plans. Our set goals will not be achieved overnight but we are committed to working together to accomplish them. In addition, we will re-evaluate our plans and progress regularly towards these goals to ensure we are on track and readjusting accordingly.