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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We include this section with an eye to deepening the student experience, enhancing faculty support, and furthering Ignatian pedagogy while advancing our commitment to anti-racist teaching and social justice.

We introduce the principle of decolonization (of knowledge, teaching, and pedagogy) to most succinctly capture the elements of diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism.

Decolonization involves identifying colonial systems, structures and relationships, and working to challenge those systems. It is not “integration” or simply the token inclusion of the intellectual achievements of non-white cultures. Rather, it involves a paradigm shift from a culture of exclusion and denial to the making of space for other political philosophies and knowledge systems. It’s a culture shift to think more widely about why common knowledge is what it is, and in so doing adjusting cultural perceptions and power relations in real and significant ways.” Keele University Manifesto 

Course Development

For instance: How to develop learning outcomes, where to look for synchronous materials, how will synchronous and asynchronous experiences connect to each other, how will diversity, equity, and inclusion be built in? To decolonize the curriculum, each course can benefit from centrally considering the following questions: What is the ultimate social role of the course?  How does the course reflect, subvert, support, maintain, pretend to ignore, relate, etc., to Fordham’s current white power structure and status quo?

Consider Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and bell hook’s Teaching to Transgress as essential texts to develop decolonial knowledge.

Here are two foundational theme quotes:
There is two things everybody got to find out for theirselves. They got to find out about love and they got to find out about living.”  (Zora Neale Hurston)

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”  (James Baldwin)

In an attempt to decolonize the classroom, one can make many changes:

  • Diversify materials and content;
  • Teach to learning outcomes that address power and social justice;
  • Design assessments that allow diverse students to demonstrate mastery in diverse ways;
  • Involve students in the creation of knowledge, content, and curriculum;
  • Embrace diverse language usage in interactions, writing and tests;
  • Involve oneself at the institutional, local, state and national levels to advocate for equity. (Source: NCTE.org)

Course Communication

For instance: What to consider in devising the syllabus, how best to use Blackboard and other technologies, how to share information with students, how to receive feedback from students?

  • Try to emphasize learning and not grades as the ultimate important objective of the course;
  • Emphasize how knowledge is socially produced, and emphasize the relationship between knowledge and power;
  • Look to provide more context for discussions than lectures.

In more practical terms:

  • Ask students to reply to each lecture and pedagogical activity. And use student’s reply to organize the following lecture and activity;
  • Engage with students on how Blackboard is set up to reinforce the hierarchical power structure (and how that relates to the white University power structure as a whole);
  • Promote peer-to-peer learning through collaborative assignments, discussion boards, etc.
  • Give students opportunities to develop the syllabus (or portions of it) alongside you: what would they like to learn, read, be able to do? 

Course Delivery

For instance: How to create active learning opportunities, how to ensure access to course materials and instructor, how to increase equity, how to build community?

  • Provide as many different types of learning activities as possible, to address, engage and encourage the varied talents and resources of each of the students (and the faculty as well);
  • Consider when and where in each course (and in the major) students encounter representations of BIPOC as knowledge-makers, thinkers, and experts;
  • Consider representation in your discipline at every level, from faculty down through majors. What barriers are underrepresented and underserved students encountering to engage with knowledge transmission and production in your field and how might you work to remove them.

Assessment and Feedback

For instance: How to create assessments that are equitable and accessible for all students, how to assess student progress toward learning outcomes, how to give feedback to students? 

  • Both extra credit and ample time to meet with students (one on one interactions online) should be offered, highlighting the fact that students are different, and therefore different forms of assessments must also be in place;
  • Consider specifications grading, labor-based grading, or other assessment practices designed to promote equity.

Course Access and Communication

How can the course be organized from a student-facing perspective?

Synchronous learning activities connected to learning outcomes:

For instance: What will the students do to learn through synchronous activities, how will students be engaged in their own learning?

  • Again, the emphasis here is on discussions rather than lecture. It is assumed that a lot of information and description will be disseminated. But this can be done through asynchronous activities allowing the synchronous activities to be used for discussion and questioning the information previously provided. The objective here is to make the production/transition between information to knowledge as obvious as possible; 
  • Consider breakout rooms with clear tasks upon return to the “plenary” session: balance promoting peer-to-peer learning with maintaining expectations for focus on the material;
  • Look for ways to build community among students and between students and the professor during synchronous sessions.

 Asynchronous learning activities connected to learning outcomes:

For instance: What will the students do to learn through asynchronous activities, how will students be engaged in their own learning?

  • The main objective is for students to learn from inquiries and discussions from each other, reinforcing the issues that each individual holds agency to their own knowledge production, and to question a pedagogical style that reinforces the hierarchical and class structure of our patriarchal and racist Western society, of which the University system forms a part;
  • Knowledge demonstration  [demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes];
  • For instance: How will students demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes?
  • The main goal for the course is to have the students think differently by the end of the semester. A similar set of questions (not more than two) pertaining to this learning outcomes should be asked at the first and last class;
  • Consider collaborating with students on learning goals.

Community

For instance: how will the class experience foster students’ sense of belonging, especially when remote learning is involved, how can the course connect to other aspects of the Fordham experience?

Questions such as the following can be incorporated into the syllabus and/or course lecture/activities:  

  • What is the relationship between the course and the other courses that students are taking?  
  • What is the relationship between the course’s learning objective and the goal of a University education?  
  • Provide contexts in which to have the student ask themselves why are they pursuing a University education?