I attended the 2nd annual Diversity Conference which was hosted on the Manhattan Campus of Nyack College in New York, NY from September 23-25.
There were a number of wonderful presentations but I thought I’d share some insights I learned regarding teaching. Dr. Aisha N. Lowe from William Jessup University, who shared some insights on how to create an academic environment of acceptance and belonging.
How to Create An Academic Environment of Acceptance and Belonging
Here are some highlights from Dr. Aisha N. Lowe’s talk:
Self-esteem is often connected to academic achievement, but before a person develops self-esteem, they must experience a sense of love and belonging. Many students of color do not experience this on our campuses. Students need to have their full self, including racial identity, accepted in order to help increase academic achievement.
The impact of our actions, not the intent, is what matters. Impact must be addressed not brushed off.
In environments where stereotypes are prevalent, then people often end up shutting down. If the campus feels unsafe then performance goes down. Here’s a link from APA on that: http://www.apa.org/research/action/stereotype.aspx
Academic environments that focus on mastery orientation (general learning and challenge) are least susceptible to stereotype threat perceptions.
Implicit bias can impact students. Seeing no (or few) faculty of color can send a message about one’s welcomeness on campus. Sometimes as faculty we may interact differently with students of varying ethnicities, races, or genders. It is important to examine our own implicit bias in these matters.
CCCU Diversity Research Data
I also got to hear from our own Dr. Pete Menjares on recent CCCU diversity research. It is clear from this data that Vanguard (and Southern California in general) is one of the most diverse Christian institutions. It is clear from this that we as faculty and staff need to be educated and informed on practices related to diversity issues in the classroom. As Christian institutions we still lack the clarity of language around diversity and even a common theology around diversity. I, personally, am excited to see how we can help clarify this language and continue to bring diversity education into our training.
To see an overview of the presentations made at this conference, please link here: http://www.cccu.org/ConferencesAndEvents/CalendarOfEvents/2016/9/Diversity16/Program
The next CCCU diversity conference will be in 2018. I hope to see you there!