APS-IDEA's goals and strategy for change

APS-IDEA teams are led by guiding principles and enact them in their institutions to create transformational change.

Guiding principles

The mission of APS-IDEA is to empower and support physics departments, laboratories and other organizations to identify and enact strategies for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We enact this mission by establishing a community of transformation.

Our vision is that as a result of collective efforts, physics and related fields will become more inclusive of all social identities, with a diversity reflective of the nation and with an equitable distribution of opportunities and resources.

To achieve this mission and vision, APS-IDEA adheres to the guiding principles of:

  • Centering people whose identities are marginalized.
  • Utilizing sensemaking, including creating brave spaces.
  • Implementing research-based transformational methods.
  • Sharing leadership across levels, from students up to faculty.

APS-IDEA networks enacts these guiding principles by:

  • Exchanging ideas, information, and experiences.
  • Deepening knowledge of research and effective practices.
  • Developing or improving DEI strategic plans.
  • Discussing various DEI initiatives and reports from physics and related disciplines.
  • Learning about theories of change.
  • Planning APS-IDEA’s programs.

Advance these guiding principle at your institution.

Learn about benefits of participating in APS-IDEA

APS-IDEA teams create change

At our core, APS-IDEA seeks to empower teams of physicists at all career stages and build their capacity to transform the culture of physics within their organizations and ultimately across the entire profession, through advancing justice, as well as DEI in their places of work and study. Teams are highly engaged and drive cultural change to improve DEI in their departments.

To support teams in successfully enacting sustainable change in their departments, APS lays out the following team characteristics and examples of APS values in action.

Understanding and enacting APS-IDEA guiding principles

When APS-IDEA team members internalize and act upon the guiding principles, they:

  • Develop and use norms for shared leadership.
  • Create and use norms for centering marginalized voices.
  • Regularly use sensemaking in discussions.
  • Employ cognitive, cultural or political strategies to foster “second-order” change.

Being well-positioned to lead change

A team that is in a strong position to advance DEI:

  • Includes department leaders and influencers.
  • Has direct contact with institutional leaders.
  • Has an explicit role in advising/deciding department activities
    Is visible and recognized for its work.

Being well-connected and well-resourced

Successful teams do not work in isolation and have a vast array of resources to draw from as they undertake DEI work. To build connects and resources, a team:

  • Actively engages with other APS-IDEA teams to bolster support.
  • Stays in contact with relevant experts at their institution and beyond.
  • Explicitly values DEI work in department policies and practices.
  • Supports their members' participation through making department funding available for such work.

Discover the APS-IDEA team members advancing DEI work


The APS-IDEA initiative, funded by the APS Innovation Fund in 2019, was created to advance community-wide efforts in physics to improve DEI. Working in tandem with other APS initiatives, APS-IDEA provides a flexible platform that physics organizations can use to engage with other EDI efforts or develop their own independent efforts to address their own unique challenges. APS-IDEA also enhances these efforts by fostering cultural change within physics departments, a sustained effort requiring community building and commitment.

Through the APS-IDEA network, physicists can address the multiple diversity problems within physics. Black undergraduate students are shockingly underrepresented in physics programs compared with other physical sciences and other racial and ethnic groups. More progress must be made to improve the representation of women in physics and a lack of data means that we do not even know the representation of major groups, such as members of the LGBTQ community or underrepresented ethnic groups such as Arab Americans, Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asians. People with disabilities are also underrepresented, comprising only 9% of employed physical scientists compared to the approximately 20% of undergraduate students in STEM who identify as such. These groups also face both subtle and overt discrimination and harassment, as well as significant barriers to studying and working in physics and related fields. By fostering transformational change within physics departments, APS-IDEA is creating a more equitable, diverse and inclusive physics community that will uplift science as a whole.

Learn more about APS-IDEA

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