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INCLUSIVE PEDAGOGY AND DIVERSITY

The ACS 2016-2021 Inclusive Pedagogy and Diversity program is a part of our larger Faculty Advancement grant program. It consists in part of an initiative to solicit proposals from ACS faculty for diversity and inclusion-related projects. A parallel effort will be the creation of diversity and inclusion committees and programs on campus, as well as a series of training and awareness events on campus.

Most of us in the academy think of ourselves as progressive and open-minded, yet, as suggested in a recent Association of American Colleges & Universities publication, “More often than not, faculty members have not been trained to seek out and infuse diverse readings and pedagogical methods into their courses.” With that in mind, we will encourage faculty grant proposals that nurture new approaches in the classroom, approaches specifically geared toward greater understanding of, and sensitivity toward, issues of inclusion.

The new ACS faculty advancement program will encourage our faculty and administrators to reconsider the nature of, and possibilities that accrue from, a more inclusive community.  It is our view that sensitivity to diversity (in the classroom, in the curriculum, and all around campus) is something that can and should be taught to faculty and administrators, and we hope to accomplish this goal through our faculty advancement program.

We want to pursue greater inclusivity in two ways.  On the one hand, we will enlist the creativity of our faculty members, through our standard Faculty Advancement grant process. On the other hand, we are not going to simply rely upon faculty to propose initiatives relating to this issue.  We also intend to create a faculty training program—as part of our larger ACS faculty advancement program—that includes faculty and administrators.  Stated another way, while we hope faculty initiatives will address issues of inclusivity in the classroom, our ACS Diversity Training program will train faculty and administrators so as to foster a more complete and intentional inclusivity throughout all student affairs and activities.

Faculty-led Initiatives

Soliciting faculty ideas and initiatives pertaining to diversity and inclusion in the classroom represents a new approach to our existing faculty advancement program.  While we believe that faculty can quite successfully devise diversity-oriented projects of their own (the SEED program is a perfect example of what faculty can do: http://nationalseedproject.org/about-us/history), ACS plans to provide some guidance and direction along the way.  We have identified several necessary steps toward that end.

First, we are already gathering demographic data, campus climate surveys (to the extent those have been conducted), and all member diversity statements.  We will encourage any college without a diversity statement to compose one.  At the same time, we will conduct an Ideas and Framework survey of ACS diversity officers to solicit ideas and participation on all that is contained within this section of our proposal.

Second, diversity information will be broadly distributed within our membership and posted on the diversity section of the ACS website.  Given the novelty of this aspect of our faculty advancement program, we believe that these two steps must occur prior to even embarking upon the five phases of our new faculty grant process, defined below.

Third, we will host an Experimental Inclusivity Initiatives Launching Session, where ACS diversity officers and ACS chief academic officers (or their faculty surrogates) meet to brainstorm about possible diversity initiatives and create the Request for Proposals for the faculty-led portion of this program.  This event will give faculty a backdrop against which to devise experimental initiatives for implementation throughout 2017 and 2018.

Fourth, we will convene an Accountability Summit in July 2018, where a team of 3-5 faculty and administrators from every ACS member college will take several actions based on the information gathered and experiments conducted up to that point: formally define what diversity and inclusion mean at ACS colleges; articulate an ACS Statement on racial justice that confronts our collective racial heritage; identifies desired outcomes of our diversity and inclusion initiatives AND establishes the metrics by which those outcomes can be assessed.  It is our hope that this 2-night 3-day summit will assist faculty (and all our member institutions) in designing grant proposals as part of the new ACS faculty advancement program.  For cost containment purposes, we hope to hold the summit at one of our member colleges in Atlanta.  To demonstrate our commitment, we seek only matching funds from Mellon to support this summit.

Finally, after the Accountability Summit, all diversity-related grant proposals and initiatives generated by faculty will be shepherded through the same process employed for the entire faculty advancement program, articulated below in Section V.

ACS Diversity Training

For the benefits of diversity to be fully realized in the classroom, there is a clear need to make the entire campus community more inclusive.  As such, while our proposed training sessions are intended primarily for faculty, administrators will be strongly encouraged to participate as well.  The need for inclusivity training has universal value and appeal across the ACS membership.

Some of our member colleges will soon begin to train, or would very much like to train, search committees with regard to diversity hiring.  The recent Mellon grant to Centre College, for example, has created momentum in a direction that ACS wants to expand upon across the consortium.  We will also look to other established training programs as we develop the content of our sessions.

The ACS inclusivity training program will travel to all our member colleges, at about eight colleges per year.  (Our timeline references two sessions per month, which may prove overly difficult to schedule, but that will be our goal.) Sessions will last three days and cover several related topics.  It is our intention to orchestrate a social gathering on the first night of each three-day session, with an eye toward encouraging candor and openness throughout the program.

In order to achieve maximum results, the program will be limited to 30 participants, all of whom will be required to attend the full session without interruption.

The tone and tenor of these sessions will be upbeat and constructive, geared toward a positive exposure to state-of-the-art teaching tools and best practices.  As recent experience with Title IX has made clear, there are issues of broad relevance that our members need not address on their own or in isolation.

We hope that our members will make the ACS diversity training program part of their faculty contract.

In order to refine and manage the training program, we have hired an ACS Director of Diversity and Inclusion (DDI), for three years, whose job it will be to motivate, facilitate, and plan diversity initiatives throughout the ACS consortium.  The DDI’s primary responsibility will be to coordinate and manage the ACS diversity training program; she will also serve on the ACS Grants Committee (that judges faculty grant submissions) and the ACS Grants Review Committee (that ensures the performance and sustainability of faculty-led initiatives).

Professor Anita Davis from Rhodes College will be our DDI.  Professor Davis is very experienced and incredibly effective, having recently served as Associate Dean of the College, where she was responsible for diversity and inclusion programs at Rhodes. Professor Davis also served on the Mellon funded ACS Diversity Planning Committee, which helped devise this grant proposal.

Through cooperation with our member diversity and multicultural affairs officers, the DDI will help organize and orchestrate diversity events at our member campuses.  The DDI will advise search committees at our member institutions and, in some instances, serve on those committees.  Importantly, the DDI will attend and address all presidents’ and provosts’ meetings, providing updates about and encouraging expansion of all ACS diversity programs.  Finally, the DDI will organize the ACS Committee on Diversity, which will consist of all diversity and multicultural affairs officers from the consortium; while the interaction of this group was significant at the time of our previous Diversity Planning program, the group lacks the constituent identity that exists among most other administrative groups within ACS, which we hope to rectify.

It is our intention that the ACS diversity training program continue into perpetuity, but we do not envision the need for a permanent ACS DDI.  We believe that the start-up work required for this initiative will be substantially more than what will be required to maintain the ongoing diversity training program.  Once the program is up and running, after three years, it will be managed by a committee of ACS diversity officers.  A chairperson of the committee will have primary responsibility for the day-to-day affairs of the program and be compensated (over and above their existing salary), which will be paid by ACS members.

How to apply or get involved: Check this space and watch your email for an upcoming call for grant proposals. You must be on the ACS Palladian subscriber’s list to receive the email (click here to subscribe). If you want to be involved in the planning for these activities, contact your Dean or ACS President Owen Williams, rowilliams@colleges.org.