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NSF 19-035

Dear Colleague Letter: Fundamental Research on Equity, Inclusion, and Ethics in Postsecondary Academic Workplaces and the Academic Profession within the EHR Core Research Program

December 24, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) wishes to notify the community of its intention to support, through the EHR Core Research (ECR) program solicitation NSF 19-508, fundamental research on equity, inclusion, and/or ethics for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty. Proposers are encouraged to explore a wide range of fundamental research projects on equity, inclusion, and/or ethical issues for STEM faculty in postsecondary STEM academic workplaces and academic professions. Examples of areas for research include, but are not limited to:

  • Fundamental theoretical constructs about equity, inclusion and/or ethics in STEM academic workplaces and the academic profession and diversity and innovation in STEM research and teaching;
  • The implications for equity, inclusion and/or ethical issues within the STEM academic workforce of national and global changes in the academic professions, such as reductions in the numbers of full-time, tenure track and tenured faculty, and increases in part-time, contingent, term, adjunct, and teaching- or research- only faculty;
  • The similarities and differences in equity, inclusion and/or ethical issues for STEM faculty among the range of different types of academic organizations (community colleges, minority-serving institutions, predominantly undergraduate institutions, doctoral universities, etc.);
  • Reliable and valid metrics of equitable, inclusive and/or ethical culture and climate in STEM academic, organizational and professional contexts;
  • The societal and organizational characteristics that influence perceptions of equity, inclusion, and/or ethics by those in the STEM academic workforce and those in the pool of potential academic professionals (e.g., barriers to broadening participation and the effectiveness of mitigation efforts);
  • The perception of equity, inclusion and ethical issues on STEM faculty academic career outcomes, work-life balance, and scientific discovery and innovation;
  • Fundamental research on how people recognize, reason about, experience and respond to issues of equity, inclusion, and/or ethics in STEM academic workplaces and academic professions; and
  • Fundamental research into the cognitive, affective, social and cultural consequences of ethical phenomena on human development and STEM educational and workforce outcomes.

As described in ECR solicitation NSF 19-508, a wide range of research activities may be supported. Fundamental research may involve the collection of new data and/or secondary analyses that leverage extant state, national, international or other databases. Proposals from early-career investigators and researchers who may not have previously recognized the relevance of their work to STEM education, including policy researchers, behavioral economists, organizational scientists, and other STEM researchers, are especially encouraged.

In addition, NSF is interested in supporting synthesis, conference, and Research Coordination Network proposals related to research on equity, inclusion, and/or ethics in the STEM academic professions.

  • Synthesis proposals seek support for the synthesis and/or meta-analysis of existing knowledge on a topic of critical importance to STEM learning and/or education, or for the diffusion of research-based knowledge. Investigators are encouraged to propose conferences and other meetings as one of the means of completing the syntheses and diffusing the research-based knowledge that is developed. Additional emphasis will be placed on the proposed dissemination plan.
  • Conference proposals seek support to conduct well-focused conferences related to the goals of the program. Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact a program officer prior to submission to discuss their ideas.
  • Research Coordination Network (RCN) proposals submitted to ECR via this DCL provide an opportunity for researchers from different disciplinary perspectives studying equity, inclusion and/or ethics in STEM academics to communicate their research and to synthesize investigations of key problems, ideas and practices. RCN proposals must follow the format and submission procedures established in the RCN solicitation NSF 17-594.

The deadlines for submission of proposals to NSF 19-508 are January 24, 2019, October 3, 2019, and the first Thursday in October annually thereafter. When responding to this DCL, please begin your proposal title with "ECR EIE DCL:". Submissions should follow the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and the guidelines in ECR solicitation NSF 19-508.

Principal investigators interested in submitting proposals (or with other questions pertaining to this DCL) may contact:


Karen Marrongelle
Assistant Director, EHR