In a recent article, a Harvard Business School dean apologized to the women at Harvard because they could feel “disrespected, left out, and unloved by the school.” Dean Nitin Nohria voiced concerns that have long been in the minds of educators: How do we become more inclusive in our classrooms? At LaGuardia, the most recent Middle States self-study recommended a stronger institutional emphasis on “values, ethics, and diversity.” Responding to these concerns, the college has instituted the Global Learning Competency. The Gender and Diversity at LaGuardia Seminar will cultivate pedagogical approaches to classroom diversity while building faculty capacity to apply such approaches to Global Learning. Through a review of literature written by those who have been mis- or underrepresented, we will explore the use of feminist and decentering pedagogical techniques to foster a more student-centered learning environment. These techniques, such as Collaborative Learning, democratic classrooms (in which students co-design rules of behavior and grading criteria), or Problem-Based Learning, encourage a classroom atmosphere which empowers marginalized actors to feel comfortable and equal. These pedagogies can create more inclusive classrooms and turn the focus of education toward shared responsibility between students and faculty (now turned into facilitators).
The seminar will feature readings, discussions, and activities designed to build greater sensitivity toward LaGuardia’s incredibly diverse population. We will engage a broad range of primary sources and apply them to the diversity of the seminar itself (e.g., people of richly diverse backgrounds teaching in many disciplines). Seminar materials will include multidisciplinary and multimodal forms of expression (for example, movies and graphic novels). Each session will model feminist and/or decentering pedagogical techniques to analyze seminar readings and to apply their insights to our classroom strategies.
The use and practice of these techniques will create opportunities to make classes more inclusive for LaGuardia students and to explore aspects of Global Learning. Discovering how diversity and inclusiveness can be built into the courses we teach will strengthen their impact on the “whole student”– the student who belongs to a heterogeneous universe that includes family, work, school, past experiences and future expectations, and create opportunities for learning which are integrative as well as inclusive.
Gender and Diversity at LaGuardia welcomes all faculty who are interested in developing strategies for increasing awareness and practice of diversity in the classroom. The seminar will be a cross-disciplinary community and forum for dialogue, investigation, and support.