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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

While students are away for the summer, Emmanuel College faculty are taking the opportunity to do some learning of their own.

Emmanuel’s Center for Diversity Equity and Inclusion (CDEI) is supporting the faculty’s professional development for the second year running with the Inclusive Pedagogy Course Redesign Program. The cohort-based initiative gives faculty members an opportunity to work together and adjust their coursework in a way that helps students feel more included and gain a greater sense of belonging in Emmanuel classrooms.

The program is funded through the CDEI and the Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that the College received in 2022. 

Offering the Inclusive Pedagogy Program (IPP) to faculty stays true to the grant’s purpose of dedication to inclusive excellence and fostering an educational environment that seeks to dismantle the effects of systemic racism – and through the collaborative experience, equips participating faculty with valuable time and knowledge to build student empowerment and create more inclusive curricula.

In the alignment of this work with the tenets of the CDEI and HHMI, we are seeing a true impact and what it means to be intentional in our efforts to create a space of belonging and inclusivity. This work ensures we foster an environment where everyone feels valued."

Dr. Keith Lezama '07, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer

This year, the six-month cohort began with a three-day workshop, during which faculty examined a syllabus from a course of their choosing, assessed their own biases in their instruction and collaborated to adjust syllabi in ways that make the classroom a more inclusive setting.

More than 60 percent of the College’s faculty have participated in the program. Twenty-seven faculty members are enrolled this summer, which began at the start of June and will continue through December.

“Providing time and space for a three-day professional learning opportunity demonstrates the College’s commitment to inclusive teaching practices,” said Professor and Chair of Emmanuel’s Education Department Dr. Christine Leighton. 

Dr. Leighton, who participated this June, said “it was a gift to have three days to reflect on our own teaching and have brave conversations with colleagues about how to best teach all our students.”

A new program theme for this year is supporting English learners – students whose first language isn’t English – which included learning more from the experiences of multilingual students and ways to make classrooms more supportive for them.

“We applied our learning directly to our own courses as we closely examined our syllabi, including course readings and statements, to determine how to make them more inclusive for our Emmanuel students,” said Dr. Leighton.

The buy-in from faculty members so far has been a huge highlight, said Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Anupama Seshan, one of the IPP’s organizers and facilitators. “It shows people really want to come together and talk about this.”

Following the initial three-day session, participants engage with a partner faculty member monthly throughout the course of the program, which Dr. Seshan said creates as sense of accountability to continue reflecting and improving on the coursework. Those meetings act as an opportunity to continue the conversation, discuss what is working well and what still needs to be worked on, she said.

The hope is that by next year the entire Emmanuel College faculty will have participated in the program, according to Emmanuel’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Keith Lezama ’07.

“It’s exciting to see the growth of the Inclusive Pedagogy Program. The commitment from our faculty is inspiring and truly speaks to who we are as a community. More importantly, this work will impact what takes place in the classroom,” Dr. Lezama said.

The content of the program features reflection and self-care for faculty members, ensuring that they are at their best to best support Emmanuel students. The content is also heavily data-driven, thanks to the diligence of Emmanuel’s Director of Institutional Research Alison Vallereux, and the whole research department, Dr. Lezama said: “The attention to data allows us to be intentional about our work.”

Faculty development directly impacts Emmanuel students and the quality of their instruction – and Dr. Seshan said it’s important that students see that growth.

“I think the students appreciate that we are constantly growing and we see ourselves as learners too – it’s the connection between students and faculty that makes the students succeed and want to stay.”

That ripple effect can make an impact, especially within Emmanuel’s small classes, said Professor of Sociology Dr. Catherine Bueker, positively impacting retention and graduation rates.

Having taught at Emmanuel for 18 years, Dr. Bueker said participating in the IPP helped her to adjust her approach to syllabi – in addition to presenting the academic piece, also adding a social and emotional component of a welcoming statement and more inclusive language.

“Even if it makes a difference to two or three students in a classroom, that’s big,” she said.

Chair of the Emmanuel College Psychology Department Dr. Linda Lin, participated in IPP last year where faculty worked on adjusting their classroom setting from a “deficit-focused” approach to a “strengths-based” approach.

At Emmanuel, the faculty really take pride in our ability to help students from many different backgrounds succeed in college and in life after graduation. We want them to know they belong at Emmanuel, that we are here to support them through their academic journey and that we are personally invested in their success inside and outside the classroom."

Dr. Linda Lin, Psychology Department Chair