The CLT is committed to helping faculty grow in their consciousness of, and ability to address, issues around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Champlain and in the wider world. Because we know that our collective awareness and understanding about justice continues to develop, we are committed to providing resources, training, and conversation opportunities to help us become better anti-racist, gender-inclusive, and LGBTQ-inclusive (and more!) educators.
Completing the 2020 DEI Faculty Training Course, found on Canvas (faculty login required), is a great starting point. It provides us with a common vocabulary and foundation for our individual and collective development, as well as guidance on managing bias incidents in the classroom, avoiding tokenism, and supporting students with minoritized identities. You can learn more about the DEI Faculty Training before you start.
Watch your calendar for training opportunities from the CLT, faculty peers, and other experts on campus.
Equitable and Inclusive Course Design
Much of what is taught in higher education perpetuates inequality by treating some works, authors, and ideas as essential, while others are excluded or tokenized. Some examples:
- Focusing on “canon” works in literature, media, humanities fields, and theory, which historically have been produced by White men more than members of other identity groups — including courses that confine issues of race, gender, or other minoritized identities to a brief, isolated snapshot like a “feminist perspectives” or “minority works” week in which a few token non-White, non-male, or non-Western sources are included
- Teaching a brief outline of the history or theories of a professional field that excludes contributions by women, people of color, and/or non-Western contributors, especially if White, male, or Western figures took credit for their work (one famous example in education is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, based on the uncredited knowledge of the Blackfoot people)
Combating this curricular exclusion in your course design is sometimes referred to as “decolonization” (although that term has a more specific meaning). It means not just adding the works of people with marginalized identities to your course, but also understanding those works in their full context, including how they speak back to legacies of racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever forms of structural injustice and bias are relevant to the particular example and your field.
Learn more about making your curriculum more inclusive through Nayantara Sheoran Appleton’s “six Ds” model.
Equity in course design is not limited to content. It also includes structuring and evaluating assignments. Students may grasp concepts and skills in your class readily, but face challenges with traditional college models of evaluation like exams and essays or navigating the college experience, particularly if they are first-generation college students, English language learners, attended disadvantaged high schools, have certain kinds of disabilities, or come from cultural backgrounds where production and sharing of knowledge simply does not follow Eurocentric models. Consider the following:
- Incorporating ungraded or low-stakes iterative assignments that help students build skills
- For major projects, offering multiple modes of completing the project as appropriate for the assignment (for example, an essay or a podcast episode or a creative work)
- Validating personal experiences and community-based study as sources of knowledge
- Being attentive to students with disability accommodations, and providing accommodations in a meaningful way
The Inclusive Classroom
Classroom equity and inclusion is complex. It requires preparation to create inclusive structures, self-awareness, quick thinking, and reflection, as well as courage to understand your own positionality and respond to incidents. Becoming a more inclusive educator is a growth process, not something you do overnight. Here are some starting points.
Things You Can Do
- Complete the DEI Faculty Training
- Establish clear community expectations with students, and involve them in articulating shared values
- Use NameCoach to make sure you are pronouncing students’ names correctly and using their correct pronouns (understand why names, pronouns, and pronunciation are important)
- Use the SNAP model to address incidents of hate speech or bias in the classroom right away
- Avoid tokenizing students — a common error of teachers who want to be inclusive but are misguided about how to do so
- Report bias incidents to the College