Multicultural Effort Underway at ISUPosted: Updated:
An effort to prepare students for diversity in the work force is underway at Indiana State University. The Bayh College of Education Diversity, Inclusion and Global Engagement Taskforce involves events on topics including age, race and socioeconomic status. March 17, 2015
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - A new initiative has the Bayh College of Education focused on preparing students and faculty for working in an environment that is growing evermore multicultural.
The Diversity, Inclusion and Global Engagement Taskforce, which includes eight members from various areas of the college, was charged with creating a more diverse, inclusive, and globally-engaged college through a series of events, programs and training sessions for faculty, staff, and students.
"It is important to create an environment of inclusion and richness where all students can learn," said Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the Bayh College. "If we model that here and it is part of our DNA as a college, regardless of where or what field our students work in, they'll take that nugget of richness with them and it will help them develop leadership skills and appreciate differences."
A Feb. 6 kickoff event covered topics of inclusive curriculum, inclusive excellence in the workplace, and micro-aggressions and received nearly 90 percent participation from the college's full-time staff, faculty and administrators. Four education students were also invited to speak along with Lisa Gunderson, an equity consultant and counselor who delivered the keynote address.
Kandace Hinton, chairperson for the taskforce and associate professor in the department of educational leadership, said participant response was encouraging and their assessments following the first event helped create a yearlong event schedule, including bi-monthly brownbag sessions that kicked off Feb. 25.
"This provides a space for us to dialogue about important subjects," said Larry Tinnerman, associate professor of department of curriculum, instruction, and media technology, who participated in the March 11 session. "It's an open forum that gives us the ability to see various points of view within the college."
Signs of diversity in media, classrooms and communities are mixed though, making the taskforce vital to the conversation, said Tim Boileau, instructor in the department of curriculum, instruction, and media technology who serves on the taskforce.
"The purpose of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Engagement Taskforce, to me, is to find ways to celebrate our differences by acknowledging and including the entire spectrum of humanity, wherever you may be in terms of the intersection of age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality, mobility; or any other classification that you consider relevant to your sense of self," he said. "That's the beauty of inclusive excellence: it allows us to all be the same, while simultaneously allowing us all to be different, without class discrimination or marginalization. It just feels better to love, than it does to hate."
Course development workshops are scheduled for March and April, but content on issues around diversity and inclusion are already being presented in courses taught at the college.
Mary Howard-Hamilton, professor in the department of educational leadership, used headlines about a group of University of Oklahoma students who were filmed making racist remarks to open a conversation with graduate students in her administration and leadership in higher education course.
"When you discuss topics like this in class it's important for students to know that you are sincere and have a passion for social justice," she said.
This fall, a faculty and staff development team will measure the taskforce's efforts to increase cultural competence and discuss recommitment to the action steps. Action planning for further assessment will begin in September.
The taskforce will conclude in December with an end-of-the-year speaker, which Hinton said it may be opened to the entire university to inspire other colleges to follow suit.
"We may not learn every single culture or language to a tee, but we certainly ought to have the knowledge, skills and awareness of those variances within our world," Hinton said. "The U.S. will be more than 60 percent non-white by 2050 and that is not far away. The folks we are training now will be in place as leaders at that time, so we need to prepare them."
Source: Indiana State University