Resources for Supporting Our Campuses in Politically Fraught Times

As faculty developers, we cannot control all aspects of the teaching and learning environment. Sometimes local, national, and international events send shock waves through our communities that most of us cannot ignore and that all of us—students, faculty, and staff—experience in different ways. Although we can never predict how to respond in such moments, here are a handful of resources that might help with framing conversations both in and outside of the classroom.* Also included are resources and ideas compiled at POD.

Teaching after Charlottesville by Derek Bruff
A review of best-practices for faculty-student interactions after a traumatic event and resources specific to teaching in the wake of violence at Charlottesville in 2017

Discussing Traumatic Events from UC Berkeley
Guidelines on how to prepare for and structure a discussion, if you choose to do so

Brené Brown on Empathy (video)
3-minute video on distinction between empathy and sympathy with strategies about how to listen to and connect with someone who is suffering

Calling In: A Quick Guide on When and How by Sian Ferguson
Distinction between calling out and calling in as ways to get someone to stop an oppressive behavior (calling in attempts to do this in the most loving, self-respecting way possible)

Teaching After Tragedy
This is focused on K-12 educators but still has some useful information.

The Faculty Focus Special Report on Diversity and Inclusion in the College Classroom
“Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom: Concrete Strategies for Cooling Down Tension” (p. 4)
“Seven Bricks to Lay the Foundation for Productive Difficult Dialogues” (p. 6)
“Overcoming Racial Tension:Using Student Voices to Create Safe Spaces in the Classroom” (p. 9)
“Managing Microaggressions in the College Classroom” (p. 10)

Responding to Everyday Bigotry from Southern Poverty Law Center
Strategies for responding to bigotry at work, home, in public, and in yourself

Responding to Microaggressions with Microresistance: A Framework for Consideration by Cynthia Ganote, Floyd Cheung, and Tasha Souza (pp. 3-7)
Theory of how microresistance can be an effective response to microaggression

Start Talking:  A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education, ed. Kay Landis, University of Alaska Anchorage
Field manual of strategies for engaging controversial topics in the classroom.

Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning and Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education by Libby Roderick and Ilarion Merculieff
Book on how indigenous ways of knowing and communicating can lead to more authentic learning and teaching in all communities

Self-Care Resources for Days When the World Is Terrible compiled by Miriam Zoila Pérez
Ideas for how to maintain health, sanity, and integrity and includes resources for everyone but especially for people of color and LGBTQ individuals

There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times
Post created by members of NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English.

Eight Actions to Reduce Racism in College Classrooms by Harper, S.R. & Davis, C. H.F.

Trump Syllabus 2.0, ed. N.D.B. Connolly and Keisha Blain. (You may find some of the readings helpful in understanding/contextualizing the current administration and reactions to it. In addition, such resources can support exploration of how the larger national context influences the environments in our classrooms). “This course, assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain, includes suggested readings and other resources from more than one hundred scholars in a variety of disciplines. The course explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism, and imperialism. It offers an introduction to the deep currents of American political culture that produced what many simply call “Trumpism”: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.” [for an explanation of the shortcomings of the first incarnation of the Trump Syllabus, see this article on the AAIHS blog]

Trumpism and American Democracy: History, Comparison, and the Predicament of Liberal Democracy in the United States
This article discusses the current threat to democracy and offers a historical and comparative perspective on American politics. The authors argue that the current political circumstance is an existential threat to American democratic order because of the interactive effects of institutions, identity, and norm-breaking in American politics.

More Resources Compiled at POD

What resources have been helpful?

  • UMichigan CRLT Guidelines
  • Cornell Guidelines
  • Liberating Structures
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Charlottesville Syllabus
  • Ferguson Syllabus
  • Flint Syllabus
  • Penn State: The World in Conversation
  • Helen Fox, When Race Breaks Out (calling in; when something happens in class: “This doesn’t sit well with me. Let’s circle back to that next class.”)
  • Many colleagues can facilitate difficult dialogues (on-campus resources)
  • Peer facilitators (students at St. Mary’s)
  • Kerry Ann Rockquemore, “How to Be an Ally” and “Radical Self-Care”
  • Facing History and Ourselves through the Holocaust
  • Peace and Conflict Studies
  • K-12 resources like Teaching Tolerance
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Anonymous feedback forms
  • Design Thinking events
  • Education Departments, Critical Race Studies, Women’s Studies
  • Colby College, “Do This Not That”
  • DC, Sustained Dialogue (can work with faculty on your campus)
  • Universities studying slavery (e.g., Brown, Georgetown); curricular resources
  • Kalamazoo College, “Praxis Center” online critical, progressive journal

What has worked on your campuses?

  • Brought various speakers on issues like gentrification, at-risk youth. Encouraged courageous conversations. Intentional programming.
  • Google group for progressive faculty alliance. Open by request. Contact Kevin Barry.
  • Fund groups that work on creation of inclusive environments
  • UVA School of EGR: excellence through diversity lecture series. Important for this work to come from all fields. Facilities Management as second biggest sponsor.
  • CTL work with Diversity Inclusion Equity. Work with counseling units, create careful spaces. Reach out to instructors. Meet them where they are at.
  • Workshop or something in writing for graduate TAs. An inclusive teaching newsletter: no scolding, spotlight things that are working well, evidence-based strategies. Diversity inclusion syllabus statement at Brown.
  • Paid attention to issues beyond the US. Cultivate global perspective.
  • Created list of resources. Everyone needs to know inclusive teaching practices.
  • Course at UW-Parkside on understanding white privilege crosslisted with Communications. ½ population is white.
  • Address elephants in the room.
  • Be attentive in individual conversations. Ask questions. Norming the sense that they are not alone. Hug it out.
  • Listen to and foreground student voices. Faculty must get past their discomfort to serve their students about whom they care a great deal.
  • “This wasn’t in my playbook” conversations for faculty. Give them permission to talk about these issues.
  • Consulted re: inclusivity plan. “Distributed accountability.” Everybody is responsible for equity.
  • Boise State Uniting for Inclusion and Leadership in Diversity: BUILD certificate program. Include faculty and staff in programming.
  • U of Alaska, Books of the Year program

What else can we do? What next?

  • Equity Teaching and Learning Award
  • Publicize inclusive teaching triumphs, reward at administrative level
  • Department equity plans
  • Intro courses designed around goal setting (e.g., critical thinking, social responsibility)
  • Acknowledge context (e.g., rural location)
  • Greensboro Civil Rights Museum (How can we use the history where we are at to start discussions?)
  • POD Strategic Planning (advocacy)
  • Office signs and pins that signal social justice solidarity

Compiled by Tasha Souza, Cynthia Ganote, Libby Roderick, and Floyd Cheung at the invitation of the Core Committee of the POD Network

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