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IF Discussions for Diversity and Inclusion: USG Teaching and Learning Conference

For the past two years, Wesleyan College students have worked with the help of faculty and staff to develop a discussion-based peer-to-peer program. The Diversity and Inclusion Discussions (DID) aims to empower students to become agents of change through civil discourse. On April 6, 2018, a group of students and faculty members will share their experiences in a session at the upcoming University System of Georgia Teaching and Learning Conference in Athens to share their experiences.

Wesleyan DID session (c) Maryann Bates [email protected]

IF Discussions Focused on Diversity and Inclusion

This program of Diversity and Inclusion Discussions (DID) builds on the collaboration between Wesleyan College and the Interactivity Foundation (IF). The initial focus of this collaboration was to integrate student-facilitated discussion teams into Wesleyan’s required first- year seminar class, WISe 101. Those discussion teams focused on exploring and developing diverse perspectives on the class topics. Once students got the feel for collaborative discussions, interest grew for taking these discussions outside the classroom to help students explore together how Wesleyan could be a campus welcoming of diversity.

By teaching students a specific set of discussion facilitation skills, the DID program enabled the campus community to address diversity and inclusion concerns across campus. Over the course of a semester, student working groups held a series of two-hour discussions designed to build a capstone presentation for faculty, staff, and administration about areas where the college could improve, ranging from student life experiences to pedagogical blind spots in the classroom.

The Conference Session

The conference session will offer an overview of the Diversity and Inclusion Discussions (DID) program, explain elements of the discussion methods, include two undergraduates to demonstrate a discussion facilitation, and examine how student-led discussions have helped to improve campus climate and student engagement. This session should benefit faculty members, student life professionals, and administrators who address diversity and inclusion needs across campus. To get a sense of the participants’ experience, you can read the 2017 report of Student Participant Feedback.

The presenters for the USG conference include: NyAnna Miller and Ziyue Fang (student facilitators), Tonya Parker (Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion), Melanie Doherty (Associate Professor of English and Faculty Diversity Liaison), and Matt Martin (Knox Professor of Humanities, and Dean of Faculty).