Creating a Climate Survey for Faculty and Staff


A philosophy professor writes in seeking the assistance of Daily Nous readers:

I am the chair of my department’s (brand new) committee on the climate for women and underrepresented minorities in philosophy. One of the first steps that we took, as a committee, was to attempt to anonymously survey all of our philosophy majors and minors on various issues, including of course their perceptions of the climate. Although that was a lot of work, it was made much easier given the existence of already existing models for what such surveys should look like (c.f. the University of Michigan’s excellent graduate student climate survey). 

The results of our survey were incredibly illuminating and have given us a basis for moving forward with regard to the climate for our majors and minors. However, the committee also believed that it would be appropriate to create a similar anonymous survey for the faculty and staff in our department. Our department is large enough that anonymity is possible. Unlike climate surveys aimed at students, we could not find any models for assessing Faculty/Staff climate perceptions. Our current plan is to essentially create it from scratch. I was writing to you to see if anyone knew of any resources that we might be able to use to help us do this. Thanks.

Please share such resources in the comments. If you’ve run a survey like this in the past and have some advice or would like to share your experiences, you are welcome to do so.
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Annaleigh Curtis
Annaleigh Curtis
5 years ago

I think one difficulty with a survey of faculty in any particular department is that most departments are relatively small and, because people know each other well, it may be especially easy to identify people even where precautions are taken to ensure anonymity. This isn’t to discourage the idea, but maybe faculty climate would be better assessed through other means or through a combination of a survey and interview portion. Of course, interviews bring up other concerns. Your university’s ombudsperson might be able to help come up with ideas and might also be able to participate in the process.Report

ejrd
ejrd
5 years ago

Hi Annaleigh,

Thanks for your input. I’m the faculty member who sent in the request to DN. As I noted in my e-mail, I think there are two reasons why an anonymous survey would be viable in my department (mileage may vary for other departments):

1. We have enough faculty and staff to ensure a degree of anonymity (counting tenured, tenure-track, and adjunct faculty along with staff and student workers).

2. I think that a well-crafted survey is at least poised to gather information that any other source would not be so poised to gather. For example, so long as there aren’t any identifying questions that would put non-tenure-track faculty at risk, such a survey may reveal a climate issue that had been otherwise invisible to tenured faculty and which would be much harder to arrive at with interviews.

I’m open to suggestions, however, and especially to resources.Report

Leah McClimans
Leah McClimans
5 years ago

I was involved in a series of qualitative interviews with the aim to evaluate departmental climate. To do this we adopted some of the questions and procedures used in a NSF ADVANCE Grant that my institution had recently received. ADVANCE was aimed at the STEM disciplines and was interested in understanding institutional obstacles to recruitment and advancement of women, best practices to promote gender equality, etc. In terms of gleaning information about climate, I thought this a helpful, although time consuming process. You may be able to adapt some of this to a questionnaire-type survey, which might cut down on the time commitment. I’m on sabbatical this year so I don’t have immediate access to the list of STEM questions & procedures, but if you are interested in them please email me and I will try to locate them for you.Report

Kate Norlock
Kate Norlock
5 years ago

ejrd, I worry for the philosophers involved when I see the phrase “create it from scratch,” which sounds stressful, like a recipe for too much work reinventing a wheel — but I realize, that’s why you’re asking for resources. I hope that you ultimately do not create an instrument from scratch.

Is there any chance you could locate money to pay someone else to do it? A dean at my previous institution recommends either contacting COACHE or reading their site for a model:
http://sites.gse.harvard.edu/coache/survey
It is also possible for two departments to combine efforts to survey faculty for climate, and I notice that this happens more often in the sciences. See, for example, Simon Peacock’s description of efforts at UBC: http://science.ubc.ca/faculty/diversityReport

ejrd
ejrd
5 years ago

Thanks again everyone for your help. I wanted to pass along one potentially useful resource just in case others in a similar situation come across this blog post. It is a link to a survey designed to assess (some aspects of) a department’s climate from the point of view of non-tenure-track faculty.

It isn’t perfect but it does contain questions that can be tailored for different purposes (though this survey does not attempt to measure the climate in terms of the sorts of issues that crop up with gender and other under-represented groups).

Link is HEREReport

Yousef Damra
Yousef Damra
5 years ago

Hi, I am a prospective philosophy major in the University of Jordan(UJ), and I am also planing to do my MA at UJ. However, I wish to do my PhD at a prestigious university like Stanford or Yale,but I am wondering weather the fellowships are available for International students . I know the question is a bit off topic,however I will appreciate a comprehensive answer.

Assume I get accepted, I scored well on the GRE, wrote an impressive philosophical paper and MA thesis and possess knowledge of four languages(Arabic,English[the language of my whole education],German[currently studying with Goethe institute distance learning program], and probably French[The UJ have excellent programs for learning foreign languages and I am considering a minor in French lit.]Report