Faculty & Professional Learning Communities on Diversity & Inclusion
How do you engage with students of diverse backgrounds without offending them?
How can you recruit and retain additional staff and faculty of color?
How do we help all students become culturally competent in order to succeed in life and career upon graduation?
Affirming diversity takes work, knowledge, and skills. Western Michigan University is committed to doing what it takes to become a truly diverse and inclusive university where all students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds, nationalities, and identities feel welcomed, included, and have equal access to the resources they need.
The Office of Faculty Development and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion have joined forces to offer Everyone Counts. This program began in February 2010 as a way of engaging faculty, graduate student instructors, and staff on diversity through the Southwest Michigan RACE Exhibit Initiative. As such, the inaugural program focused on race and ethnicity and empowered participants to explore this topic in a supportive community. These learning communities serve to equip faculty, graduate student instructors, and staff with the skills needed to implement course objectives and campus programming centered on diversity.
Each year participants will focus on a topic area of diversity. In this year-long experience, participants will engage in regular meetings within a diverse group of 8-12 people who discuss literature on their diversity topic area, share best practices, listen to guest speakers, attend workshops and conferences, and dialogue around challenges and opportunities. The learning communities are designed for both personal and institutional transformation. Participants will be able to:
Each participant will select an individual “focus course” or program to work on, or a group may work together on a collective program. Participants will be supported in the development of learning outcomes by their facilitators and their community. Participants are also encouraged to engage in action research in their courses or programs, and present project results at local, regional and national conferences.
Each participant will be expected to:
Past participants found the Everyone Counts program to be both engaging and beneficial. They offered the following feedback:
“The learning communities gave me a chance to voice my questions and thoughts on diversity which I think, in turn, has helped me get over any shyness of being a voice for diversity in a larger context.”
“[The learning communities] changed the way I look at the culture at WMU, and has encouraged me to try to find ways to facilitate discussions about those things that make us unique, as well as those things we have in common.”
“I shared with our community members and facilitators that our bi-weekly gatherings were, at times, the most meaningful, difficult, and rewarding blocks of time I would have in a two week span while at work.”
“Everyone Counts has been an extraordinary journey for me and I will always be grateful that I was a part of this very important work on our campus.”
Participants in the inaugural Everyone Counts program not only engaged in personal and professional development, but they also created projects where they could apply new skills and ideas. Below are just a few of the projects started by the participants.
Disability, Access, and Holistic Inclusion in Higher Education
Participants will investigate disability through the lenses of ability and ableism, through current research and best practices in higher education. Participants will have opportunities to discuss how a cultural shift in access can shape the university’s community through focus on disability as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon.
Race, Privilege, and Power
Deep and meaningful dialogue around race, privilege, and power helps equip participants for both participation and leadership in the creation of an equitable and inclusive campus environment. This experience allows participants the space to develop personally and professionally within the context of a supportive community.
Women Faculty, Staff, & Students in Higher Education
Women faculty, staff, and students will come together to examine the situation for women at WMU and higher education in general. Our three goals are to review current best practices and research related to gender equity; explore transformative strategies to advance women in higher education; and create new leadership and service opportunities to better support women on campus.
Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Inclusion in Higher Education
Faculty, staff and graduate student participants will engage in the exploration of privilege and oppression as they impact the LBGT community, specifically in higher education. Topics will include LBGT student recruitment, engagement and persistence in higher education; LBGT faculty/staff talent recruitment and retention; and, LBGT academic research.
For more information here about other 2014-2015 Learning Communities.