Curating Content To Support Learning About Humanity's Transition

This content was posted on  20 Jan 20  by   Diversity Statement (submitted as part of SFI summer school application)  on  Reddit Community
Diversity Statement (submitted as part of SFI summer school application)

Sharing it in this space considering some of the recent gameb discussions

Fostering a diverse, inclusive and equitable scientific community is a goal of the Santa Fe Institute. (See working definitions of these terms below.) If you would like, please use this space to describe your experiences in science and education in relation to this goal.


I think it is remarkable that you choose to dedicate a separate segment (1/6th of application space) for this very important matter. Thank You! In the spirit of what SFI stands for, I think you should definitely try innovative means and since you ask for applicant’s experiences in relation to this goal, maybe I can share some:

I grew up in rural India and since my parents were relatively better-off financially⩦ than my peers’, I did not feel significant discrimination while I was in my home town. (⩦we did not own a car but were still middle class by Indian standards of late-nineties)
When I moved to the city of Mumbai for university education, I feel I was subjected to rather subliminal and structural form of discrimination and inferiority complex due to my background. This was technically mitigated by positive discrimination, but not emotionally.

When I moved to Europe, I felt much less of an outsider due to social norms within my network(s). Some of it might be due to my own personal maturity(?) but I want to note this to highlight the complexities involved. Some other person from India may not feel the same way, due to their different backgrounds and trajectories. My experience should not be mistaken for a pattern.

In India, ‘caste’ is the primary unit of racial discrimination. (extended often to non-hindus… very inclusive indeed! Funny side note: usually people discern caste from surnames but my surname happens to be pervasive across different castes (definitely a good thing)!
Efforts to eliminate discrimination with caste based quota in educational institutions and in the government have had mixed results. While they have definitely been beneficial to a segment within so-called lower castes, they ended up creating a ‘creamy layer’, who are now economically well off but continue to reap benefits of this quota system at the expense of others. This fuels resentment also in the poorer sections of so-called upper castes and certain political forces exploit it to perpetuate social segregation.
I feel more intersectional approach could be useful but I have not heard of any political section with reasonable plans for progressive reforms.

When it comes to making political choices, my personal rule of thumb is to consider wider social dynamics and policy implications rather than symbolism of selcting someone from historically disadvantaged background. In our daily lives (social interactions etc.), I feel it is more tricky to navigate but I try to learn from my mistakes.

As far as my application is concerned, while I cannot (and should not) prevent you from possibly excluding me as a male, I urge you to kindly disregard my ethinicity. Thanks!


Working definitions

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, including the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. Diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, national origin, religion, language, disability, sexual orientation, parental status, socioeconomic status, or physical appearance.

Inclusion is the creation of environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming environment embraces differences.

Fostering equity means striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups.

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