The University of New Mexico will host a public forum on “The National Academies Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education,” on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the SUB Ballroom C and on Zoom.

The forum will feature speakers from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, who will present research findings and institutional initiatives that suggest how universities can better address and prevent sexual harassment in higher education. Please go here to register for your live or remote participation in this public forum.

National Academies program officers Dr. Frazier Benya and Jeena Thomas will review the findings and recommendations of the 2018 National Academies report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  Their presentation will also provide examples of work developed since 2018 by the members of the National Academies Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education – of which UNM is a member – which demonstrate how higher education institutions are moving beyond basic legal compliance toward evidence-based policies and practices.

“After their thorough examination of the research literature on sexual harassment, the National Academies 2018 Consensus Report offered 14 major recommendations for academic institutions, scientific societies, and federal agencies’ use in reducing the incidence of sexual harassment,” said Dr. Frazier Benya, senior program officer, National Academies. “The Action Collaborative provided a space for academic institutions to follow through on these recommendations, both by continuing to review and commission new research via Working Groups, and systematically collecting and sharing annual Descriptions of Work from member institutions that align with the report’s recommendations.

“So far, the Action Collaborative has been able to amplify and support innovative and evidence-based practices to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in higher education that just 5 years ago many couldn’t imagine happening in colleges and universities.”

The public forum is part of a two-day National Academies site visit to UNM by Benya and Thomas. The site visit is an opportunity for the whole campus community, including university leaders from Main, Branch, and Health Sciences campuses, to learn more about the research foundations and innovative solutions advanced through the Action Collaborative, and to engage in conversations about the challenges and achievements of specific offices and groups on campus.

“We’re so fortunate to have Dr. Benya and Ms. Thomas visit UNM, where they can share the abundant research and best practices generated by the Action Collaborative’s Working Groups over the last three years,” said Dr. Barbara Rodríguez, senior vice provost, Office of Academic Affairs. “Even more important, they’ll hear from our anti-harassment practitioners and university leaders about the continuing challenges to our efforts to prevent sexual harassment, both at UNM and across higher education. I hope many UNM staff and faculty will be able to participate in the Public Forum, or view it afterwards, to learn about this important project.”

UNM is a member of National Academies’ four-year Action Collaborative initiative, which supports the participation of over 60 member institutions, and whose representatives serve on working groups that study research and interventions for the evaluation, prevention, remediation and response to sexual harassment in higher education. UNM’s involvement reflects the university’s commitment to sustain and deepen its efforts to prevent sexual violence and harassment on campus. Since the University first joined the Action Collaborative in July 2019, the project has promoted initiatives to address and remediate sexual harassment at UNM that are beyond compliance, research-based, and staff- and faculty-focused, including these UNM projects published in the Sexual Harassment Collaborative Repository: the Alternative Reporting Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Bystander Intervention Trainings, Counseling and Advocacy for Health and Professional Students, the Staff-Faculty Wayfinder Website, and Support for Faculty Development of Women in STEM.

UNM’s participation in the Action Collaborative has been led by Senior Vice Provost Dr. Barbara Rodríguez, HSC Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Amy Levi, and Associate Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Dr. Liz Hutchison. 

“The Action Collaborative was created in 2019, just as UNM emerged from its three-year Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice,” said Dr. Amy Levi, HSC vice president for Academic Affairs. “Through the dedicated efforts of university anti-violence practitioners, as well as university leaders, faculty, staff, and students, by 2019 we had dramatically improved UNM’s compliance with Title IX requirements, but for our community to be truly safe, we must go beyond compliance. The Action Collaborative is a national resource that can elevate our successes and suggest ways we can do even better by relying on evidence-based and survivor-centered practices developed by other institutions.”

The work of the Action Collaborative is rooted in the National Academies’ 2018 report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which provides a research-based summary of what sexual harassment is, how it impacts individuals and communities, and what factors predict harassment and enable it to thrive.

The report concluded that system-wide changes to the culture and climate of higher education are needed to prevent and address sexual harassment. The Action Collaborative involves more than 60 academic institutions, including UNM, and brings together leaders from academic and research institutions and key stakeholders to work toward and share targeted, collective action on addressing and preventing sexual harassment across all disciplines and among all people in higher education. 

The Action Collaborative creates an active space where colleges, universities, and other research and training institutions move beyond basic legal compliance to evidence-based policies and practices for addressing and preventing all forms of sexual harassment and promoting a campus climate of civility and respect. The Action Collaborative, which has identified four working groups, Prevention, Response, Remediation and Evaluation, will also address the issue of sexual harassment in the context of other damaging behavior, including incivility, bullying, and other forms of harassment such as racial harassment.

The Action Collaborative works toward targeted, collective action across all disciplines and among all individuals within higher education to:

  • raise awareness about sexual harassment and how it occurs, the consequences of sexual harassment, and the organizational characteristics and recommended approaches that can prevent it;
  • share and elevate evidence-based institutional policies and strategies to reduce and prevent sexual harassment;
  • contribute to setting the research agenda, and gather and apply research results across institutions; and
  • develop a standard for measuring progress toward reducing and preventing sexual harassment in higher education.

In support of these goals, the Action Collaborative has already published several research-based resources generated by its Working Groups on its website:

The UNM community is also invited to attend remotely the Fourth Annual Action Collaborative Public Summit on Oct.19 and 20. The agenda and free registration link are available here.

Finally, the National Academies is poised to continue this work into the future.  This past August, President Biden signed into law the House Resolution 4346, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which mandates the National Science Foundation Director “to enter into an agreement with the National Academies to undertake a study and issue a report on the influence of sex-based and sexual harassment in institutions of higher education on the career advancement of individuals in the STEM workforce.” (Section 10537. National Academies Assessment.)

For more information about the National Academies Action Collaborative, Descriptions of Work, and FAQs, visit Sexual Harassment Collaborative Repository.

The public forum and site visit is sponsored by UNM’s Division for Equity and Inclusion, Health Sciences Center Office of Academic Affairs, and the Office of Academic Affairs.