For a comprehensive look at our values, practices, and key initiatives, read our Strategic Plan!
RIOS is fighting for educational justice in undergraduate STEM
All students deserve an educational experience that is, for each student, liberatory. It should center historically and currently marginalized students, be fully accessible and relevant, and create agency and voice to critically engage in the broader world. Everything we do is a step towards this future.
Truly Open Education requires social justice
By asking “Open for whom,” RIOS imagines an Open Education as the radical idea that education should be affordable, accessible, equitable, inclusive, and relevant to everyone regardless of their background. We envision classrooms which center the students as co-constructors of the learning process, in an Open Science ecosystem which democratizes knowledge, tools, and access to information.
However, we can only achieve these goals if Open Education is built upon a framework of social justice. This means that we need to critically reflect on the areas where STEM Education has not allowed all society’s members to access the STEM ecosystem and/or thrive within it when designing and implementing Open Education.
RIOS targets three levers for systemic change
We know systemic change takes systems thinking. We cannot do all of the work ourselves, even with a community of amazing leaders behind us. The RIOS Institute focuses on the following three areas related to Open Education and postsecondary STEM education:
We have a suite of activities (e.g. Learning Communities, Webinars, Working Groups) that leaders can participate in to build professional capacity in justice, equity and inclusion, and can be implemented into their organizations. We use our social and professional networks to amplify the work of these leaders and other community leaders, particularly those who identify as part of groups historically excluded from STEM.
As we believe that collaboration is the path to realizing our vision, we also emphasize community building. Throughout all of our activities, training, and communications, we prioritize the primary long-term beneficiary - the learners in our classrooms - and involve students in advising and designing RIOS Institute content.
We are committed to helping leaders affect real change in their organizations. Social justice work takes structural changes, many of which are upheld through the policies that govern systems. Through collaborations and Working Groups, we provide leaders with recommended practices to guide organizational, project, and funding policies that promote equity and inclusion.
We strive to lead by example, and invite others to join us on this journey. Our own organization serves as an innovation sandbox, in that the policies we recommend are also practiced and evaluated at the RIOS Institute. We also offer consultancy services to organizations with specific challenges around open education and equity-minded education.
When social justice approaches are used as part of creating, adapting, implementing, and sharing Open Education Resources (OER), we change the footprint of higher education as well as the experience for students. We aim to create new cultural expectations for STEM by offering a suite of “train-the-trainer” programming. In this way, our leaders can support classroom teachers, in both curriculum development and pedagogical practices that support social justice for STEM education.