Florida International University Develops Award-Winning Bystander Intervention Training, Publishes Initial Results

Faculty meetingFaculty from Florida International University (FIU), a longtime COACHE partner, recently published “Motivating Bystander Intervention to Reduce Bias in Faculty Interactions” in Advance Journal, which focuses on individual and institutional transformation in social justice.


FIU’s Bystander Leadership™ Program was developed and implemented to provide faculty with the knowledge, motivation, and tools to respond against interpersonal and systemic bias and thus promote change that strengthens inclusivity. The program is part of a larger body of programming started in 2011 aimed at reducing gender and race bias among FIU faculty members and is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) ADVANCE program.


Preliminary results from the program suggest that the model could be adopted in other institutions to enhance efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity.


The Impact of Bystander Intervention


Bystander intervention broadly describes the actions (or inaction) in a potentially urgent situation when the bystander is present but not initially involved. Interventions include getting physically or verbally involved, involving someone else (such as an authority figure), or supporting the person being harmed. Intervention training prepares the bystander to notice and act to interrupt the event.


Participants in FIU’s Bystander Leadership™ Program say the program provided them with knowledge and practice to enact the five steps of bystander intervention in observed situations of bias and exclusion: notice and interpret the experience of others as different from one’s own; lead by taking responsibility to intervene; decide what to do; and act to intervene. They reported being equipped with concrete tools and a sense of efficacy to intervene in future incidents.


Data from COACHE’s Faculty Job Satisfaction Survey, deployed by the campus every three years since 2011, has helped measure improvements on a number of key metrics over time and identify opportunities for further improvement. Looking at the results from the most recent survey, leadership believes that the Bystander Leadership™ Program, along with FIU’s other inclusive excellence programming, has helped to make progress toward institutional change.

FIU’s Bystander Leadership™ Program was awarded the 2020 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Platinum Award in the category of Best Practices in Diversity Programming. In 2021 the program also received an NIH Prize for Enhancing Faculty Gender Diversity in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences.

To learn more about FIU’s Bystander Leadership™ Program, read the full paper.