Robin Fowler

Lecturer IV, Program in Technical Communication

College of Engineering

Being your best DEI self: Think of a time when you were at your best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. What happened? Who was there? Why did you feel at your best?

When students send personal messages, sometimes during a semester and sometimes long after, commenting on how my actions helped them be more successful… I feel proud. I’d turn this question back on its head a little and say that my goal should be to help them be their best (engineering student) selves and I’m glad when I realize I can do something to support that.

Wishes for the future: How would you imagine your environment needing to be for you to feel that you don’t have to do DEI work anymore?

I honestly think we will always need to do DEI work. Our brains are wired for cognitive shortcuts, and so we will always need to monitor the assumptions, shortcut, baggage, etc. we bring to any situation. There’s an individual level to this–we need to all work to be more reflective in all of our behaviors and decisions; there’s also a system-level to this, identifying when individual efforts are still coming up short. Both of those need to continue in perpetuity, I think…

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?

The cliché that “it’s an honor just to be nominated” feels really applicable to me in this context. I hope that being an awardee means that my actions made a significant impact for someone. That said–most DEI issues aren’t due to isolated bad actors/actions and they can’t be addressed by isolated well-meaning actors/actions either.