Skip to main content

SEA Change Awards recognize various stages of self-assessment and effective actions towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Each Award type focuses on a different element of systemic change, but the overall concept (including the SEA Change process and award levels) is the same for each. All SEA Change guidelines emphasize the need to understand root causes of inequity, encouraging deep analysis of policies, practices, programs, and processes and if they differentially impact the experiences of people on campus.


Each award type concentrates on different approaches necessary for systemic change: "top-down" (Institutional Awards), "bottom-up" (Departmental Awards), and "bi-directional" (Biomedicine Awards). More information about specific awards is provided below.

Each award type has a set of questions or considerations—referred to as guidelines—that enable an institution, department, or biomedical endeavor to explore qualitative and quantitative evidence using an intersectional lens. SEA Change provides guidance for synthesis and evaluation of these data to understand how policies, climate, and culture are impacting everyone within the applicant entity. Using that understanding, institutions, departments, and biomedical endeavors can develop an action plan to address any gaps in information and take steps towards removing barriers to equity.

Each award application includes a narrative detailing the "30,000-foot view" of findings from self-assessment and a five year action plan focused on DEI. To prevent backsliding and to encourage capacity-building, awards must be renewed within five years or they expire. At the time of renewal, applicants may request to renew at their current level or apply to progress to the next level.

SEA Change Awards have three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold

Bronze Criteria serve as the foundation for all awards. Silver expands to recognize programs & Gold expands further to recognize leadership
Award Level Criteria
Criteria Bronze Silver Gold
Evidence of thorough self-assessment using qualitative and quantitative analyses
Clear identification and prioritization of key issues
Actions planned to address key issues and carry the institution forward
Demonstration of impact of previous activity  
Expanded action plan to continue progress in additional areas  
Serves as a model and exemplar for others in the sector    

Applications are evaluated by a peer review panel comprised of experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion, systemic transformation, and higher education. The panel provides extensive feedback on the application and recommends an award level (or no award). Using criteria outlined in the appropriate Criteria and Guidelines for each Award, peer review findings are used to inform final award decisions.

Institutional Awards

SEA Change Institutional Awards recognize the top-down component of systemic change, encouraging institutions to do a deep-dive into the unique ways they can advance climate and culture to better support DEI in STEMM. The self-assessment guidelines allow institutions to identify their unique barriers to equity, emphasizing a systems approach while allowing for prioritization and flexibility.

Focal populations: Faculty and administrators

Award administration: AAAS

Eligible: SEA Change Member institutions

Biomedicine Awards

SEA Change Biomedicine is action-oriented and stands to publicly acknowledge the continuous journey toward equity in medicine and science at medical schools and academic health science centers. Central to SEA Change Biomedicine’s success will be the adaptation and co-creation of a national framework, process, and metrics for self-assessment to create enduring systemic transformation while accounting for each academic health science center’s complexity. To accomplish this, we are working with senior leadership in pilot cohorts across a range of sizes, from a school of public health to the entirety of an academic health science center. We are also hosting focus groups with a wide array of stakeholders to refine the framework so that it is flexible enough to address the complexity of academic medical institutions while also avoiding the undue burden of duplicative data collection with other metrics-driven initiatives. 

SEA Change Biomedicine is currently recruiting for the 2023 Pilot Cohort. If your school, college, or health science center is interested in participating in this exciting opportunity to co-create a framework that will help biomedical endeavors engage in systemic transformation, please contact us.

Focal populations: Customizable, can include: administrators, faculty, staff, residents, clinical fellows, postdocs, students

Award administration: AAAS

Eligible: Biomedical endeavors accepted into a pilot cohort. 

Please explore our materials from past SEA Change Biomedicine convenings.

Departmental Awards

SEA Change Departmental self-assessment features guidance from core criteria created by stakeholders across STEMM fields. Departmental Awards are administered by committees of disciplinary societies that work together to refine core self-assessment guidance to meet the unique needs of each field.

Currently there is one formal Departmental Award pilot: SEA Change Physics & Astronomy, administered by the Physics and Astronomy SEA Change Committee (PASCC) including representation of nine disciplinary societies. The pilot has two cohorts, with the goals of testing departmental self-assessment award structures, refining the process, and gauging overall sustainability and interest from the broad physics and astronomy community.

If your department, college, school, or program is interested in doing a deeper dive as part of the bottom-up transformation needed to change the system of higher education, please contact us to find if your STEMM field is considering a pilot.

Focal populations: Customizable, can include: faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate students, undergrads

Award administration: Disciplinary society committees

Eligible: Departments (or schools/colleges, depending on size and focus) admitted into a pilot cohort

NOTE: Access to the guidelines are possible only through SEA Change Port of Call. Only individuals involved in Departmental Award pilots will be able to access these criteria and guidelines through a link in the "Awards" menu on Port of Call.