Thursday, June 27, 2019 News

SPARC: Putting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion First

Open Access   ·   Open Data   ·   Open Education

For 20 years, SPARC has worked to build a more open system for research and education.  Our goal is to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate discovery, and increase the return on our public investments. From the very beginning, SPARC’s vision for Open has been inextricably linked with equity: we envision a world where systems for sharing knowledge reach everyone, everywhere. We believe that a truly Open system must be intentionally built so that a diverse set of voices can participate, so that marginalized or missing voices are actively included, and to ensure that it serves the global community in an equitable way. Open is not just about accessing knowledge —it’s about the process of creating, discovering, and exchanging knowledge.

To achieve SPARC’s vision for Open, the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must be built into the core of the system we seek to foster, and they must be deliberately supported at the center of our own work. We recognize that DEI is not a destination, but an ongoing process that requires constant attention, dedication, and reflection. 

With support from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, SPARC has partnered with DeEtta Jones and Associates to conduct a top-to-bottom DEI review of our organization. Over a six month period, the review will examine SPARC on three levels—our membership, our global community, and our team—in order to help us understand what voices may be missing, how well our programs align with the needs of our community, and what barriers may be preventing broader community participation. The output will be a set of recommendations outlining how SPARC can continuously improve our practices to align with our values.

Our work with DeEtta Jones and Associates is part of SPARC’s commitment to building equity and inclusion into the core of everything we do. This commitment is rooted in the foundational text of the Budapest Open Access Initiative and Cape Town Open Education Declaration, and has grown over time as we have listened and learned from our community. OpenCon, a program built on the idea of including and uplifting the voices of students and early career professionals, continuously strives to become a safe, vibrant, global community, and has been a driving force in our understanding of DEI practices. We have increasingly prioritized DEI in the public programs we support, including Open Access Week and our semi-annual joint forums with ACRL, along with our internal processes for selecting our advisors, team members, and program participants. The evolution is ongoing, and we welcome it as a chance to continuously improve.

We recognize that it is our responsibility to grow and learn as an organization, in order to remain a reliable, trusted resource for our increasingly diverse membership base. We invite all members of the SPARC community to join us in this effort. This summer, we will be rolling out several opportunities to provide input into the process, including in-depth interviews, a survey that will be sent to SPARC members, and outreach to the broader community. We encourage you to be direct and candid in your feedback to give us the best possible chance to live up to our shared vision. We look forward to the ongoing conversation, and always welcome you to get in touch.

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