What Works: Champlain Faculty Present DEI Strategies

Last week, Champlain faculty and staff attended the “What Works in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” virtual conference hosted by Kenyon College. Megan Sheldon (SMART Space), Cory Davis (Community Standards), Ian Fournier (Residential Life), and Faith Yacubian (EHS) gave great presentations on executive function and neurodiversity and identity. A panel of faculty and staff also shared faculty-driven strategies for DEIB development. Here’s what that panel’s speakers talked about, including links for more information about their strategies.

Teaching and Learning Community Culture

Rebecca Mills (CLT)

Rebecca set the stage by exploring the significance of faculty-to-faculty professional development, as required or official programs. Champlain’s faculty includes many wonderful thinkers and doers who can share with their peers and provide multiple venues for learning. Rebecca also noted that many Champlain faculty are working and learning about DEIB on a higher level than people at other institutions. We’ve made great progress, while at the same time, we still have a long way to go.

Engaging Faculty in Tough Conversations

Van Dora Williams (CCM) and Tarn Foerg (EHS)

Tarn and Van Dora explored how faculty-driven DEIB initiatives respond to student concerns. Van Dora reviewed the history of student demands for anti-racist practices at Champlain (learn more in the DEI Training Course). She discussed how all-campus events, such as the screening of Tell Them We Are Rising and discussion opportunities, can help make space for students’ concerns. This documentary about historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) is an important counterpoint for a predominantly White institution (PWI) like Champlain.

Tarn gave an overview of the development of the Naming Educational Whiteness collaboration. NEW facilitated a series of discussions in spring 2021 and developed a shared assignment faculty can use with their students, among other projects. She explored how faculty can track structural racism within their disciplines, as she and other presenters did during the 2021 series.

Anti-Racism Circles

Liz Allen-Pennebaker (Core)

Drawing on her experience creating the thing you wish you had access to, Liz recounted the development of and feedback from the Anti-Racism Circles project. ARCs organize very small groups of faculty who can have regular, confidential meetings in which they wrestle with complex issues around racism. They also develop an “on-call” support network they can draw on as they teach. (You can learn more about the ARCs on their website.)

Bringing DEIB Development Directly to Faculty

Caroline Toy (CLT)

While most presenters discussed faculty-to-faculty initiatives, Caroline presented the payoffs of bringing more formal DEI training to faculty within their disciplinary contexts. She discussed working with faculty members before division meeting presentations to ensure DEIB trainings are relevant for specific disciplines and professional fields.

Interdisciplinarity and Student-Faculty Learning

Rowshan Nemazee (Core)

Rowshan presented a program she developed around The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was intended to promote both DEIB and inter-division collaboration. It included interdisciplinary opportunities for faculty and students. She emphasized the importance of understanding Black history from Black perspectives, particular in a complex case that addresses the history of science, medical ethics, structural racism and sexism, and more.

Creating a Religious Observance Policy and Education

Kerry Noonan (Core)

Last but not least, Kerry discussed an ongoing project to create better practices around religious accommodations. This endeavor has a long history that includes Senate committee work to develop an accommodation policy, as well as efforts to better educate faculty about what observing religious holidays means. Kerry shared the calendar of religious holidays available to Champlain faculty (login required). It includes less-familiar traditions and provides basic information about what a student observing those holidays might need.

Thank you to the Kenyon Center for Innovative Pedagogy for welcoming all our Champlain speakers!

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