On October 24, 2019, I attended the 2019 AISNE Diversity-Equity-Inclusion conference. A recurring theme through the day (as articulated by keynote speaker Dr. Philip McAdoo) was transitioning schools from head to heart.
Dr. McAdoo noted the importance of asking and being willing to face the tough questions and, in his session on preserving one’s sanity when one is the only voice in the room, Lawrence Alexander II would pick up on this theme, noting that we need to take an honest look at ourselves and how skilled we are both at actually speaking up and at looking for and seizing on opportunities to integrate other people into the work. In framing how to build effective coalitions, he said, these four questions could serve as useful guidelines:
Pascale Musto and James Greenwood facilitated a session on recruiting, empowering, and retaining faculty of color. They did an industry-wide climate study in 2008 and a follow-up in 2018, and the trends are for racial awareness to be increasing but also for incidents of racism and tolerance of racism to be increasing as well. We need to have more conversations about race that are not simply precipitated by specific events. We can also be more deliberate about cultivating leadership and networking with others, for example sending faculty of color to workshops and institutes, attending job fairs for people of colour, and passing on a strong candidate to other schools if their skill set does not match well with our exact needs. And we must build a truly inclusive culture.
This latter theme proved a good prelude to Carla Pugliese’s session on creating cohesive, intersectional communities. She led us in thinking about:
In her closing keynote, Dr. Ali Michael spoke on building the beloved community, reminding us that racism and internal bias fracture us and that the ultimate goal is the pursuit of wholeness.
A longer and much more detailed write-up of the day is also available on the school blog.
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