Intercultural and Global Engagement Education and Enrichment
As a Christian liberal arts community, we have a responsibility to understand more fully how systems of privilege have created inequities and injustice, and we need to devote considerable energy to preparing ourselves and our students to lead the efforts for racial understanding in this moment and for a new generation.
This year is an intensive season of reflection and learning. We're cultivating various speakers in our community to help us engage in important discussions on race and equity. Diversity leadership and strategic priorities are embedded as a part of the college and will take even more profound shape this year and in its future. We look forward to the growth and development that is sure to come.
SELECTED ACADEMIC INITIATIVES
Ethnic Studies Minor Last spring the Academic Senate approved the revised Ethnic Studies minor, and we are continuing to expand and refine it. The work this fall includes crafting the core interdisciplinary seminar for the minor (to be offered in spring) and shaping new courses for inclusion in the curricular options. Political Science, for instance, is working on one new offering on Race and Politics.
General Education Appraisal Westmont’s general education program was crafted almost two decades ago and places a clear emphasis on diversity and culture, but less on understanding race and injustice. Building on some groundwork done last spring, the Academic Senate—the college’s curriculum committee—will be appraising our criteria for approving courses and considering new courses or requirements that will ensure graduates have a fuller understanding of Christian perspectives and new disciplinary research on race, equity, and inclusion.
“Advancing Racial Equity” Workshop At a midpoint in the semester we will launch a year-long workshop for faculty on “Advancing Racial Equity,” designed to equip faculty to assess their own work through a racial equity lens and maintain an inclusive and welcoming environment for students of all social identities and cultural backgrounds. Led by Carmel Saad, Associate Professor of Psychology, the program will help us develop a shared language and shared vision and urgency for racial equity, and acquaint faculty with field-tested tools and strategies for integrating equity and inclusion in their work. The workshop will examine themes of privilege, internalized racism, implicit bias, and explicit bias, and biblical themes related to truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Student Focus Groups and Diversity Assessment Over the summer, several members of the faculty leadership held listening sessions with students to learn about their experience and perspectives, and their observations and critiques have yielded a number of good insights that will shape our curricular conversations and our faculty development program. We will be following up on the questions raised in these conversations with more surveys and focus groups as part of our annual Institutional Learning Outcome assessment, which is focused this year on diversity and global engagement.
Gaede Institute Conversation Last spring the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts hosted its annual “Conversation” on the topic “Still Dreaming: Race, Ethnicity, and Liberal Arts Education.“ In the coming academic year, the new Conversation (scheduled in May 2021 when we are hopeful for in-person dialogue) will focus on the impact of the pandemic on the liberal arts, including the way that the pandemic has exposed inequities in our society and services.
Several Specific Course and Departmental Projects Several faculty and departments have undertaken curricular revision projects this summer. At a recent Faculty Forum, eight faculty gave short reports on their own efforts, so here’s a sampling of some initiatives and changes undertaken by our colleagues. We will be updating this list throughout the semester.
- The Westmont Theater Arts Department has established the Justice and Global Engagement in the Theatre Arts Initiative. Beginning in fall 2021, John Blondell, award-winning director and Westmont professor of theater arts, will become the new global ambassador in the performing arts. The initiative also establishes a new artist/scholar-in-residence for diversity, equity and inclusion in theater arts. See the full news story here.