Assessing and Transforming Departmental Climate

Academic or departmental climate is created through a wide variety of factors ranging from bias, discrimination and exclusion to respect, politics, stress, satisfaction, resources, support, transparency, participation, authority, professionalism, mentoring, and contributions to the common good. The motivation to change the climate may arise out of significant dissatisfaction on the part of individuals, a department, or the institution as a whole regarding failure to achieve important academic goals, such as attracting or retaining faculty or students, satisfying intellectual collaborations, effective relationships with colleagues. Too often, however, efforts to change climate are organized only in response to a dramatic incident or series of incidents through which change becomes an imperative.

Changing the climate typically involves three kinds of activities:

  • Assessment: collecting data about what is actually happening in the department (including events, patterns, individual realities, and changes over time) as well as information about what is supposed to be happening to achieve the goals and structural realities of the department
  • Clarifying Standards: identifying the institutional, collective, and personal norms that best fit the department (taking into account the disciplinary culture, regional and institutional norms, and the needs and experiences of the individuals in the department)
  • Applying/Creating Best Practices: using established guidelines relating to meeting norms, mentoring, communication strategies, organizational structures, management practices, etc. to create more productive and satisfying conditions

Kardia Group LLC works with faculty, administrators, staff, and graduate students in a variety of ways to identify how a given climate might change and to facilitate the process of making those changes.