Assessing & Enhancing Department Climate

A Workshop Series for Department Chairs

WISELI no longer offers this workshop.  For information, contact


Climate — the extent to which an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect — plays an important role in people’s job satisfaction, effectiveness, productivity, engagement, and decisions to remain in or leave a department or area of study.

Because department chairs/heads play an important role in developing and sustaining a positive, productive, and welcoming departmental climate, WISELI has developed a workshop series for department chairs seeking to improve climate in their departments.

Description of the workshop series

WISELI’s workshop “Assessing and Enhancing Department Climate: A Chair’s Role,” a series of three sessions, engages small groups of department chairs in discussions about climate in their own departments and provides them with opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences and ideas. A brief departmental climate survey administered between the first and second sessions allows chairs to identify specific issues of concern for their own departments. Participating chairs and facilitators work collaboratively to develop plans to address these issues. The three sessions are described below:

Session 1

Department chairs engage in a general discussion of climate and the importance of fostering positive climates. Topics discussed include:

  • Definitions of climate
  • Importance and benefits of fostering positive climates
  • Results from recent studies of faculty worklife at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Understanding climate from others’ perspectives
  • Introduction to web-based departmental climate survey.

Department Climate Survey

A brief survey will be administered to department members between Session 1 and Session 2.

Session 2

  • Chairs consider the potential influence of unconscious bias, assumptions, and microaggressions on climate in their department.
  • Chairs receive survey results for their individual departments, spend some time reviewing these results, and begin discussing survey findings.
  • Facilitators provide advice and guidance for disseminating survey results to department members and for involving the department in identifying common areas of concern.
  • Chairs consider possible actions to take to enhance climate and learn about resources and people on campus who can help them in this effort.

Sharing department climate survey results

Department Chairs share aspects of survey results with department and identify areas of concern.

Session 3

  • Chairs discuss how they shared survey findings with their departments and how they identified areas of department climate in need of improvement.
  • Discussion will concentrate on development and implementation of an action plan to address areas of concern. Participating chairs, past participants, and discussion facilitators will share expertise, ideas and resources to aid in developing this action plan.
  • Chairs will consider specific topics such as fostering collegiality and the influence of leadership styles, organizational structure, and decision-making practices on departmental climate.

Workshop schedule

The first session of the workshop series is typically scheduled during October of any given year. If you are interested in participating in the 2019-20 workshop series, please contact us.

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