A Sense of Belonging: Lehman College Kicks off Diversity in Teaching Project

In the effort to continually foster a campus-wide climate of belonging and diversity, Lehman College kicked off the Diversity Development in Teaching Project on February 28, 2014.

The project targets and supports faculty and student development in relation to the educational and instructional needs of the diverse and underrepresented students on the campus, including students who are racially and ethnically diverse, students with disabilities
, culturally diverse students, 
English language learners, LGBTQ students, 
gender differences, economically diverse students, and students with different learning styles.

The initial session, which included members from across the campus community, included presentations and a panel discussion on each of the project’s focus areas – three key areas of research that have been found to have a positive effect on learning:

Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) is defined as using the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) applies principles from neuroscience and architecture to learning, with the goal of building multiple entry points into the initial design in order to meet the needs of all learners.

Cogenerative Dialogue (Cogen) are conversations with faculty, students, and administrators that are geared toward creating agreed upon measures to improve the learning environment, while holding participants involved in them accountable for actualizing the desired outcomes.

“We are excited to gather so many invested faculty, staff, and students for the Diversity Development in Teaching Project,” said Professor Jessica Bacon, co-leader of the project. “The enthusiastic program participants heard presentations on the first two research areas,  then engaged in cogenerative dialogues where faculty and students learned to work together and learn from each other’s perspectives.”

Over the course of the spring semester, selected faculty members will work with experts and students who have agreed to collaborate to improve practices that will meet the needs of diverse students. Changes could include pedagogical approaches, assessment redesign, and course/ activity redesign.

After the initial seminar, small, facilitated groups will meet three times during the semester. All participants will gather again in August 2014 for a final seminar where the results of the work completed will be shared.

The Diversity Advisory Council at Lehman College serves as an advisory board to President Ricardo R. Fernández with the goal of addressing diversity and inclusion issues in the classroom and on campus. The Diversity Development in Teaching Project is an initiative of Lehman College’s Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity. It aims to foster a campus-wide climate that respects and values diverse perspectives, identities and also provide a remarkable sense of belonging, which all members of the community can equally experience.