The Inclusion and Equity Faculty Development Group

The Inclusion and Equity (IE) Faculty Development Group is a team of faculty members who have been planning and coordinating inclusion and equity discussions for Fuller’s faculty. The group, organized under the leadership of Alexis Abernethy, associate provost for faculty inclusion and equity, is comprised of Diversity Council faculty members Clifton Clarke, Migum Gweon, Daniel Lee, Hak Joon Lee, and Peter Lim. The Faculty Senate provided the opportunity for the IE Faculty Development Group to guide conversations during Joint Faculty Meetings throughout the 2018-19 academic year. These dialogues cover topics such as hospitable multiracial classrooms, developing inclusive syllabi, implicit bias, and equity pedagogy.

At the Fall Faculty Retreat, the IE Faculty Development Group offered a set of shared definitions that would be necessary for continuing conversations. Recognizing that miscommunication can become a significant hindrance to effective conversations, the IE Faculty Development Group shared definitions for words such as inclusion, equity, diversity, white normativity, microaggressions, implicit bias, and more. This was an essential component of creating a shared language across the institution. At the same retreat, faculty discussed techniques for orienting students to a multiracial environment.

During the November Joint Faculty Meeting, the IE Faculty Development Group discussed the process of developing inclusive curricula and syllabi. In addition to including authors from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, this conversation addressed the concepts of content integration and knowledge construction. This process includes understanding how new material is not only added into an existing course, but also integrated more thoroughly into that course. In addition, knowledge construction goes beyond presenting new information for students to acknowledge, but rather is a process of critically engaging with material and considering the implicit cultural assumptions of that material.

The February Joint Faculty Meeting was devoted to the topic of implicit bias. The session was led by Dr. Carmel Saad, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Westmont College. This time provided faculty members the opportunity to consider how the implicit, and often unrecognized, racial attitudes of professors and students can affect the classroom. In response to the presentation, Diane Obenchain, director of Fuller’s China Initiative and professor of religion, said, “The session will make a difference in both my teaching and in my relationships with those who work for me. I have learned that I really have to think about my hidden biases that I have in how I work and how I think—I need to be more concerned with the person doing the listening, learn more about the listener, and then adapt my teaching and working approaches to multiple kinds of listeners.”

The IE Faculty Development Group is planning on discussing equity pedagogy at the May Joint Faculty Meeting. This involves practical strategies for developing an environment attuned to the priorities of justice and fairness, even to the details of developing practices for equitable email communication. Because small interactions, things that can often go unnoticed, can have a large effect on relationships as well as overall institutional climate, equity pedagogy draws attention to habits of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution in order to promote more equitable interactions.

Through the work of the IE Faculty Development Group, issues related to diversity, inclusion, and equity have maintained a place of importance throughout the 2018-19. The sessions they have facilitated have the potential to directly impact the experiences of students at Fuller, as students come to a school more prepared to acknowledge and respond hospitably to their unique experiences. Already, the IE Faculty Development Group is planning how to continue the conversation into the next academic year.