Community Spotlight

In this section, we will highlight the work being done by various members of our community to further diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campus. Below, we present the work of Sara Bidgood, CNS, Pushpa Iyer, GSIPM and three student clubs – Queers and Allies at MIIS, MIIS Immigrant Rights Alliance, and African Nations Club.

Improving Gender Balance through CNS’s Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative

By Sarah Bidgood
Senior Research Associate and Project Manager, Center for Nonproliferation Studies
MANPTS, 2016

On September 25th, 2018, I spent the morning at Smith College speaking to a group of students about the intersection of gender and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  My visit was part of a new project I am spearheading at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies to encourage more undergraduate women to consider careers in nonproliferation and disarmament. The CNS Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative comprises three specific activities that I am carrying out this fall:

  1.    Giving talks at top women’s colleges (like Smith) to introduce more female undergraduates to WMD-related issues and career opportunities;
  2.    Establishing a mentorship network to support these students as they pursue careers in this domain; and
  3.    Creating a website featuring articles, internships, and other resources geared towards women that will help them acquire further training.

Statistics show that deliberate efforts to bring more women into the nonproliferation and disarmament domains are sorely needed.  In 2017, for example, women made up only 33.3% of the workforce at the US National Nuclear Security Administration—the government agency that oversees the US nuclear stockpile. That same year, only 18% of delegations at a meeting on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—the bedrock of the international nonproliferation regime—were headed by women.

This gender imbalance is problematic because it excludes women from the decision-making discourse surrounding WMD when these are weapons that affect everyone.  It is also worrisome because private sector research has shown that diverse teams produce better outcomes than homogeneous teams. When it comes to preventing the spread and use of WMD, we need every possible advantage to ensure that our collective efforts succeed.

With these drivers in mind, I’ll be speaking to students at Barnard College, Trinity College, and my own alma mater, Wellesley College, over the next two months.  I hope to add a few more institutions to my list in the coming weeks. As a woman working in this field, I know what a difference this initiative would have made to me personally, and I am proud of the leading role that CNS is taking in this critical area. I look forward to keeping the MIIS community apprised of our progress.


Efforts to Build a more Equitable Campus

By Pushpa Iyer
Associate Professor, GSIPM
Director, Center for Conflict Studies
Chief Diversity Officer, MIIS

I would like to highlight two particular efforts I have made in the past year to ensure equity and to support conversations around difficult topics.

  1. Bathroom Policies:  In Spring 2017, Allies at MIIS worked with the Institute’s Administration and Facilities to develop bathroom policies for the MIIS campus. Following the model set forth by Middlebury College, this process included identifying all the single-stall bathrooms on campus, creating a map of these bathrooms, and providing this map to the community and prospective students. Jacob Dwyer, a member of Allies at MIIS, worked hard to identify all single-stall bathrooms around campus. Following the acceptance of a proposal I made to the Institute Leadership Group, Andrew Hernandez from Facilities has provided much assistance to implement our ideas. A statement concerning an established set of bathroom policies will be available on the soon-to-be-coming Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page on our website.
  2. Academic Courses on Race: To reach a broader audience on our campus and to arm our arguments and perspectives with conceptual knowledge and theories, I began offering a series of classes related to the topic of race conflict. In Fall ‘17, I started with a course titled “Racism and Policy.” I followed that up in Spring ‘18 with two classes – “Decolonizing Knowledge for Racial Equity” and “Dismantling Whiteness, Patriarchy, and Capitalism for Racial Equity.” Encouraged by the very positive responses received from the students in these classes, I once again offered “Racism and Policy” this semester. I had 25 students in the class, including Pam Ventura, Assistant Registrar. At the end of every one of these classes, I receive comments that the course should be required of all students on campus. Obviously, these are reflections of a self-selected group, but it does, however, signify that many students are looking for more opportunities to discuss and wrap their minds around these complex topics.
    Finally, I am organizing a Decolonizing Knowledge workshop for three MIIS and three MIDD faculty in Washington DC later this month. I will report back in the next issue.

Student Clubs

At the start of the new academic year, students might find it interesting to hear about some of the clubs that are pushing the diversity, equity and inclusion goals. If you are interested in getting more involved, please contact the club representatives.

Queers and Allies at MIIS (QAAAM)

QAAAM is a group open to all students who share a common interest in cultivating, nurturing, and enriching the Queer experience at MIIS. QAAAM exists to promote the inclusion of all aspects of the Queer identity, through awareness and education in the MIIS and greater Monterey community. Also, through its semester events, QAAAM aims to create a safe space for all attendees.

For more information about upcoming events or how to get involved, please visit the club’s Facebook pageor feel free to reach out to the President, Dionne Hart, at, or Vice President, Jacob Dwyer, at

MIIS Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA)

MIRA was formed by a small group of DPP students with the goal of connecting discourse on international migration issues to the realities of immigration in Monterey County. The club hopes to raise awareness about these issues and mobilize other MIIS students through organizing events, creating dialogue, fundraising for local organizations, and facilitating volunteer opportunities with nonprofits that support the immigrant community.

Please contact Taryn Kearns at or Binh Ngo at to join the MIRA email group or visit the club’s Facebook page to learn more.

African Nations Club (ANC)

ANC has more than one objective. First, the club tries to help African students settle in Monterey by providing them with housing commodities, inviting them to events, and introducing them to campus life. It also organizes social, cultural, and political events to familiarize MIIS students interested in Africa, the continent. Another goal is to work together with other clubs on campus -such as Women in international Security, MIIS Immigrant Rights Alliance, and others- in organizing events.

You can join ANC on Facebook or feel free to reach out to Anas Elallame or Kirstin Van Gend at