ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant Background

What is an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Grant?

The National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE program aims to develop systemic and sustainable approaches to addressing faculty gender disparities across the sciences (including dynamics at the intersection of race and gender) and promote gender equity in ways that involve women and men. The Institutional Transformation (IT) track supports the development of innovative organizational change strategies to produce comprehensive change. UMass Amherst was just awarded a 5-year $3 million ADVANCE Institutional Transformation (IT) grant to support our efforts at advancing gender equity.

Why does the project focus on collaboration and equity?

The UMass ADVANCE project was developed over the course of four years by an interdisciplinary team of scientists and campus leaders who span four Colleges constituting the core NSF-funded disciplines: Social/Behavioral Sciences (CSBS), Natural Sciences (CNS), Engineering (COE), and Computer/Information Sciences (CICS). This collaborative interdisciplinary PI team-- which reviewed literature, collected pilot data, developed hypotheses, built relationships with stakeholders and proposed the project-- included men and women, including four women of color. The core proposal idea that emerged was: support for collaboration will advance equity for all women faculty and for men faculty of color.

What does the ADVANCE project plan to do?

The proposed R3 model for supporting faculty collaboration (and equity) focuses on three necessary elements for success: resources, relationships, and recognition. The project defines collaboration in three domains: research collaboration, inclusive community, and shared governance. Through a combination of research and programming, the goal of the UMass ADVANCE program is to provide sufficient resources, relationships/mentoring, and recognition of collaboration in each of these domains. A collaborative team of external and internal evaluators will assess whether the program activities are meeting their goals. The social science research projects will investigate different dimensions of collaboration with a variety of research methodologies, to better understand the dynamics of intersectionality of race and gender, recognition of collaborative work, and different governance contexts for faculty equity. The team invites wide engagement from faculty and campus leadership to develop further and implement the key program ideas and to participate in the research.

What about colleges outside of the core NSF-funded disciplines? What happens when the grant ends?

The university will separately fund the extension of relevant grant activities to school/colleges outside of the core NSF-funded disciplines. The Office of Equity & Inclusion is leading the project to ensure that the successful ADVANCE project activities and practices are sustained beyond the award term and systematically integrated into the existing campus structure.

Special thanks to the project leadership team.

The team and the grant submission were coordinated by the UMass Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) and supported by CSBS, CNS, COE, CICS and the central administration. To our knowledge, it is the largest social science led interdisciplinary grant to be awarded to UMass Amherst.