Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Faculty Involvement
Diversity Digest Volume 9, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 9,
Number 2

Download our print issue (PDF)
Campus-Community Connections
Intercultural Learning for Inclusive Excellence
Why Allen and Joan Bildner and the Bildner Family Foundation Funded a Statewide Diversity Initiative
Learning to Listen as We Lead
Institutional Models That Cultivate Comprehensive Change
Curricular Transformation
Where Worlds Converge
Curricular Transformation through Collaborative Teaching
Intercultural Learning in First-Year Seminars
Designing Intercultural and Cross-cultural Spaces
Enhancing Collaborative Leadership of Faculty and Staff
Faculty-Driven Curricular Change
Diversity as Shared Practice
Dialogue Groups at Princeton University Library
Faculty Involvement
Epistles, Posters, and Pizza
Forging Campus-Community Connections
"Beyond Food"
Cross-cultural by Design
Student Experience
Something to Declare
Putting Student Voices in Public Spaces
Café Bergen
Institutional Leadership and Committment
Assessing Diversity Attitudes in First-Year Students
Infusing Cultural Competency into Health Professions Education

Faculty-Driven Curricular Change

By Jill Schennum, assistant professor of anthropology, County College of Morris

County College of Morris

County College of Morris

County College of Morris (CCM), a community college in Morris County, New Jersey, has worked to integrate a robust diversity education into every degree program we offer. To do this, CCM has built on the college’s earlier diversity efforts, which included a required diversity-certified course for the liberal arts degree. Although this requirement was a good one, it did not sufficiently involve all CCM students in an education that incorporated diversity and global awareness.

To achieve this goal, we hoped to build wide faculty support for infusing diversity and global-awareness issues into courses across the curriculum. Through our three-year Bildner Family Foundation grant, we sought to develop an approach to diversity education that met the needs of CCM’s diverse degree programs. Accordingly, we created three volunteer-based faculty task forces, one in each academic division. The task forces were to assess the current level of diversity education at CCM in each division, put together a report to be reviewed by an outside consultant, and then generate an action plan of recommendations for initiating a more pervasive curricular transformation. The action plans were eventually submitted to the division deans and to the vice president for academic affairs so they could choose specific projects for implementation.

During the first year of the Bildner project, task forces worked to define diversity education, construct goals for such an education, and develop initial assessment tools for determining how CCM was progressing. Assessment tools included a faculty survey, a student survey, a survey of community leaders, interviews of department chairpersons, and student focus groups. The assessment process took longer than expected, continuing well into the second year of the project. However, looking back, this lengthy process may well have been a necessary part of building commitment, dialogue, and consensus. The process generated a rich dialogue within committees about the definition and goals of diversity education. Communicating assessment results to wider faculty audiences also fomented a much wider conversation throughout the college about diversity education.

Over the three-year grant, faculty were exposed to a wide variety of speakers, seminars, conferences, and a series of intensive summer institutes. Such forums were crucial for exposing faculty to contemporary theoretical perspectives and pedagogical approaches to diversity teaching and learning. Our local, campus-based summer institutes, in which faculty worked toward infusing diversity issues into one or more courses, were well attended and produced concrete curricular transformation. The institutes, ongoing seminars, and conferences enriched faculty understanding and deepened the diversity expertise on campus. At the end of the three-year project, CCM had developed a diversity consultant team of experts who were able to deliver on-campus seminars, as well as provide faculty development to other campuses.

Why Our Program Worked

The success of this project was directly related to faculty development opportunities, communication efforts on campus, committee work, and faculty participation in cocurricular diversity events. This multifaceted approach to bringing diversity issues onto campus resulted in an ever-widening network of involved and committed faculty. Because the goal of the project was transformation of course curricula, building faculty interest in and commitment to diversity education was crucial. Faculty need to be given opportunities to generate ideas, participate in discussions, develop plans and programs, and get involved in cocurricular events if they are to effectively transform the courses they teach.

In the last year of the project, evidence of curricular transformation was apparent. Sixty-two individual courses across the college had been revised by faculty. These curricular transformations infused diversity issues into a wide variety of courses across degree programs. The project performed an assessment of the efficacy of the infusion and published assessment results for the wider CCM faculty audience. A booklet about the infusion projects also provided faculty throughout the college with models and ideas for infusing diversity issues into curricula.

The support of senior administrators has been just as important as the financial support from the Bildner Family Foundation. Faculty involvement is more likely to thrive if top leaders make diversity a priority. In addition, we found it makes a difference if top leaders step forward to assess and implement diversity action plans, while also recognizing faculty for their efforts to incorporate diversity into all the assigned courses. Administrative support, combined with the empowerment of faculty to design programs, has enabled CCM to infuse diversity across the campus and at multiple levels.

Questions, comments, and suggested resources should be directed to campbell@aacu.org.
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