“Engaging Diversity” through the Apprenticeship in Teaching Program

Last week, President DeGioia committed Georgetown to a “more energized effort” in combatting racial injustice through four new investments, including the formation of an African American Studies major. In doing so, he also called on the wider university community to “pick up the pace” in their own efforts to advance equality through teaching and scholarship. Materials from the “Engaging Diversity” workshop discussed below are available upon request and may be helpful for faculty hoping to better answer this call. We also invite interested faculty to visit the Teaching Commons for other resources on addressing issues of race and inequality in the classroom.

On February 1, the Apprenticeship in Teaching (AT) program hosted a workshop on “Engaging Diversity” framed in part by a call from President DeGioia to “engage in the work of rebuilding our commonweal.” Co-facilitated by Joselyn Schultz Lewis and James Olsen of CNDLS alongside Daviree Velázquez, Director of A Different Dialogue at Georgetown, the workshop considered the role of the classroom in engaging issues of diversity, as well as pedagogical strategies for negotiating identity, power, and conflict.

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Velázquez began the workshop by introducing participants to methodologies and classroom techniques used in A Different Dialogue. A Different Dialogue engages students in facilitated dialogue about their experiences within and across social identity groups. Formed in response to the Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness the goal of the program is to develop comfort with – and skill for – discourse on difficult topics, ultimately fostering positive, meaningful, and sustained cross-group relationships among students.  Velázquez’s discussion included noting the difference between (and different uses for) debate versus dialogue, as well as the concept of a “brave” rather than a “safe” space for approaching controversial topics. Workshop participants then participated in several interactive exercises including a method for participants to volunteer and recognize similarities and differences in identity. Following Velázquez’s presentation, participants worked in small groups to brainstorm additional needs, approaches, and resources to support instructors interested in engaging diversity issues in a course. During the latter half of the workshop, participants worked through a backward design process to reimagine existing courses with the university’s new diversity requirement learning goals. Participants collaborated to design in-class activities and course assignments capable of addressing these goals while also creating opportunities for instructors to gather evidence of the impact of their efforts.

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The AT workshop series will continue on February 24 with “Active Learning in STEM Fields and Beyond,” facilitated by Linda Hodges, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Director of the Faculty Development Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Although geared toward STEM disciplines, this workshop is open to the Georgetown community and useful for anyone interested in active learning best practices. Those interested in attending should email atprogram@georgetown.edu.

The Apprenticeship in Teaching (AT) program is designed to enhance the preparation of graduate students as teachers through workshops and faculty mentorship. Current Georgetown graduate students can learn more about and register for the program on the AT program website.