We are looking for new Working Groups to fund!

The RIOS Institute invites proposals for Working Groups that will function as innovation sandboxes or think tank incubators. Accepted proposals will receive a $2000 budget. Participants will bring new ideas and address challenges as they develop a tangible product aligned with the RIOS mission. We are accepting proposals on a rolling basis. Go here to submit your Working Group proposal.

For more information, see the full call here, or contact…



What are Working Groups?

Working Groups can be convened by the RIOS Leadership team or proposed by RIOS community members to tackle a shared community challenge. These groups will function as innovation sandboxes or think tank incubators. In either of these formats, participants will bring new ideas and address challenges as they develop a tangible product by the end of the project period.

RIOS Working Group participants are active researchers and co-authors working together towards the construction of new knowledge (such as synthesis, pilot research, or translational work) to be disseminated in some way for the RIOS membership (such as through a white paper that may form the basis of a grant, a webinar, and/or a set of informational documents). To support this work, we offer funding for participant support, facilitator honoraria, and/or consultants. Working Groups are intended to meet regularly (weekly or biweekly) for no more than 3 months. Working Group leaders will be mentored and supported by a RIOS team member.

Have an exciting idea? We are now accepting proposals for new Working Groups! For more information and to submit your proposal, see the full call here.

Current RIOS Working Groups

Debunking the Myth that Race is Biological (Spring 2023)

This group, proposed by Melanie Lenahan and Karen Gaffney, will focus on the problem that the belief that race is biological is on the rise, and this is a serious problem for two reasons. First, this belief is false, and second, it is dangerous, with harmful and even fatal consequences. This myth has served as a rationale and justification for white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, genocide, land theft, slavery, segregation, eugenics, and more. Institutions of higher education have an opportunity to take a more active role in debunking the myth that race is biological through teaching. This Working Group will identify materials that could be integrated into various science courses that would support faculty in this intervention. Funding from RIOS will go towards compensating students  to create curricular materials that will contribute to this work.

Revising the Genetics Curriculum for Biologically Accurate Learning about Race and Genetics (Spring 2023)

This group, proposed by Drs. Katherine Furniss, Charlie Willis, and Sarah Hammarlund, will revise common genetics learning objectives, classroom examples, and assessment questions. The basic genetics curriculum, typically focused on Mendelian and molecular genetics with examples about, for example, sickle cell anemia, reinforces the incorrect belief that race is genetic. Using the principles of backwards design, this group will revise learning objectives to be biologically accurate and anti-essentialist. Next, the group will revise and create classroom examples and contexts that meet these learning objectives. Funding from RIOS will be primarily utilized to compensate an undergraduate student for their efforts in this project, as well as some compensation to the three faculty leaders.

Open Frameworks for Evaluating OER towards Social Justice (Spring 2023)

This group will be led by RIOS co-founder Dr. Karen Cangialosi, Kassidy Fegles-Jones and Elizabeth Braatz. In the last few years, several OER and STEM organizations have begun to create frameworks or develop projects with the intention of identifying, evaluating and/or guiding creators in the construction of equitable, anti-racist and socially just (S-JEDI) OER materials. The aim of this Working Group is to research and curate information about these frameworks. This group is building an ongoing database of organizations, projects, and initiatives that have created frameworks or guidelines to be used for the integration of S-JEDI and anti-racist principles into OER creation, remixes, and use in pedagogical practices. Once the database is complete, they will analyze the various frameworks for commonalities and differences and develop a matrix to more easily identify areas of similarities and uniqueness. The database will be used as part of a community engagement plan. This information will be posted on the RIOS website.

Previous RIOS Working Groups

Reclaiming the Language of Advocacy (Spring 2022)

This group, led by RIOS Communications Fellow Jasmine Roberts-Crews, explored how to be intentional in the language we use to discuss social justice issues and advocate for systemic change. It also addressed how the language of advocacy can and has been weaponized to minimize the experiences of systematically excluded people, and to challenge movements for change. Through weekly readings and discussions, participants built a white paper that identified the role of language in framing social justice issues and provided recommendations for how to propose and advocate for systemic solutions. At the end of the Working Group, participants had the opportunity to revise the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) BioInteractive’s Inclusive Language Guide. Funding from both RIOS and HHMI went towards compensating the organizers of the Working Group, as well as participants who contributed to the revision of the HHMI guidelines.

Broadening Representation and Recognition in STEM curricula with OERs (Spring 2022)

This group, proposed by Dr. Marja Bakermans, explored how to use Open Education Resources (OER) as a tool for decolonization in STEM education. Participants built a white paper that outlined how to use workshops for increasing the creation and adoption of OER that centers marginalized people, incentivize faculty use of these OER, and promote decolonized and inclusive OER designed by the team. Following the Working Group, the team planned to expand their work into a full NSF grant proposal. Thanks to RIOS’ funding, the Working Group members were able to recruit peer consultants to evaluate the project and compensate them for their work.

The Inner Landscape of Critical Thinking: Building Learning Ecosystems for STEM Students’ Wicked Competencies (Spring 2022)

This group, proposed by Dr. Mays Imad, tackled how acknowledging and incorporating emotions into the classroom⁠—instead of falsely asserting that learning is purely logical⁠—can improve students’ experiences. “Critical feeling,” then, is a skill that needs to be cultivated by lessons, alongside and intertwined with critical thinking. Dr. Imad’s Working Group created a concept paper that asked what critical feeling looks like in the STEM classroom, and how students respond to this frame of learning. RIOS’ funding went towards compensating team members for their time spent on this project.

A Culturally Responsive Instructor Training Curriculum (Spring 2022)

This group, proposed by Elizabeth Besozzi, will work on revising and expanding the CODE Workshop, a series of computer science events for students from marginalized groups. This workshop was previously developed by several members of the Working Group, and provided not just data analysis experience, but also peer mentorship for attendees. Working Group participants built a culturally responsive training curriculum for CODE Workshop instructors, and a grant proposal to support ongoing and future iterations of the workshop. RIOS’ funding went towards compensating Indigenous participants and external consultants for their expertise. This Working Group was also supported by matching funds from the Oklahoma University Office of the Vice President, and the Corix Plains Institute.

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) OER Initiative: The IDEA Framework (Spring 2022)

This group, proposed by Dr. Michelle Pilati, further developed a framework for the development of inclusive, diverse, equitable, and anti-racist (IDEA) OER. This framework provided tools for faculty to choose and improve existing OER for their courses. Participants in the Working Group solicited and incorporated feedback on the IDEA Framework, and used that to revise it. RIOS’ funding, along with matching funds from the ASCC OERI, went towards compensating the team members for their work.

Tagging Ontologies Working Group (Summer 2021)

This group’s participants explored possibilities for metadata systems which support inclusive and anti-racist Open Education Resources (OER). How we design our OER databases, search functions, and other systems sends a message to the community about what we value pedagogically. The working group focused in part on how systems of labeling and searching (“tagging”) OER can encourage anti-racist and decolonizing curriculum submissions in postsecondary STEM education. At the end of the working group period, the team produced a one-pager that became the basis of a full NSF grant. Following the conclusion of the working group, several group members, along with a few new individuals with additional expertise, finalized and submitted the grant. You can read about that team’s insights from their experience on our News Blog.