Antiracist Practice in Study Abroad HE Programs (Bonus Post)

Recently, Dean DePauw announced a call for applications for the “Future Professoriate: Global Perspectives” study abroad program.” From the first time I heard Dean DePauw describing the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate and mentioning the study abroad opportunity, my ears perked up and I was all in. Besides my love for travel, I always wanted to engage in study abroad since high school but finances, GPA, or courseload provided many missed opportunities. I knew that a study abroad trip would allow me to engage in experiences I would not otherwise experience while in the United States of America. The “Global Perspectives” program is another chance to fulfill my study abroad dreams, and this time, none of the factors that held me back in the past are factors today. Unfortunately for other minorities financial, GPA, and other concerns are still a reality of debilitating factors when hoping to engage in study abroad.

In “Can study abroad advance antiracism in international HE?,” Motun Bolumole and Nicole Barone (2020) are concerned argue that although study abroad programs are said to extend students’ world view they in fact perpetuate racism. A couple of these concerns are that (1) minority students face discrimination by their peers while on study abroad trips, and (2) 70% of study abroad participants are white students. Bolumole and Barone propose universities provide funding for minority students who would not otherwise be able to participate in study abroad and reconsider GPA requirements. Also, universities should develop an antiracist curriculum for study abroad that provides antiracist learning objectives.

I noticed that the Global Perspectives program has prerequisites that help students develop a cultural lens/worldview of higher education prior to attending the trip. Students are required to take a future professoriate and contemporary pedagogy course, and both courses have discussions about diversity, inclusion, and implicit bias as well as learning about international higher education. These courses are the first step towards an antiracist curriculum. Next, students accepted into the program must attend a series of sessions as further preparation.

This article helps elucidate the underlying racism in study abroad programs that we may otherwise overlook as oppressive to a community when we’re in a position of privilege.

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Reference:

“Can study abroad advance antiracism in international HE?” by Motun Bolumole and Nicole Barone (2020)

https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20201104095902644

The Future of Diversity at U.S.A Universities

In Spring 2020, I started to take issue with how universities are addressing diversity concerns and whether or not the needs of minority students are being addressed to mitigate mental health issues. I believe the future of the university within the United States is entangled with issues birthed from systemic racism.

According to NCES (2020), 43% of hate crimes on college campuses are racially motivated. Minority students continue to experience pervasive racism in academic spaces. To address racist incidents, predominantly white institutions (PWIs) use campus climate surveys to measure student demographics and capture insight into student experiences. I argue that climate surveys perpetuate racism by what Hoffmann (2020) calls “data violence.” Data violence is data science and technology that facilitates material and symbolic violence. I posit that the method by which universities use climate surveys perform data violence by perpetuating racism and collecting culturally insensitive information about multiply-marginalized communities. I am reviewing existing research in technical and professional communication (TPC), higher education, and other disciplines concerned with imbued racism in data collection and recruitment efforts. The research I will move forward with will help me reimagine an anti-racist data collection and response process that will hold institutions accountable to multiply-marginalized communities.

If universities continue to invest in diversity recruitment initiatives, they also need to ensure that they invest in inclusive climate initiatives. Currently, universities track their diversity initiatives with climate surveys. I do not believe that surveys are the right tool for supporting multiply-marginalized students as they attend PWIs for multiple reasons. Surveys lack the required expediency to address critical campus climate issues; they use classification structures that are oppressive and lead to data violence.

Scholars such as Aimee Kendall Roundtree (2016) examines TPC programs’ desire to have diverse students in the field, reflecting the diversity of the global industry. To that end, Roundtree identifies effective recruitment strategies for possible implementation by TPC. Some impediments to diversity recruitment include “inadequate financial resources and lack of commitment to recruitment efforts and policies are common obstacles” (p.3). Roundtree highlights issues linked to diversity recruitment, and my research will build on her work by confronting issues with the inclusion efforts.

I engaged in preliminary research by analyzing my university’s climate surveys, and in my noticings, survey participants were subjected to polarizing identity classifications. Johnson et al. (2018) caution the use of classifications because they “[seek] to segment the world,” whereas “standardization is an attempt to connect the communities of practice” (p.64). Furthermore, I yield to Hoffman’s insight that “inclusion discourses can further rather than subvert vulnerability” (p.2) as data violence through the classification of identities reproduces stereotypes and othering. As a graduate employee of my university’s Reimagining Diversity Initiative, I benefit from access to various survey data to sharpen my critique on understanding the implications of classifications in climate surveys and other harmful language. As I foreground my research with scholars in TPC and other disciplines, I seek out how universities should collect and use climate data that centers the needs of their multiply-marginalized students.

I say all that to say—I look forward to how the American university continues to tackle diversity issues.


References:

Hoffmann, A. L. (2020). Terms of inclusion: Data, discourse, violence. new media & society, 1461444820958725.

Johnson, M. A., Simmons, W. M., & Sullivan, P. (2017). Lean technical communication: Toward sustainable program innovation. Routledge.

Roundtree, A. K. (2016). Program Recruitment.

A Look at MOOCs and the Traditional Classroom

As I started to conduct research to find articles about how faculty in higher education are using or reacting to social media, MOOCs, or disruptive technologies, I could not find articles written within the past two years. Most articles were published around 2012 and as recent as 2016. I wonder if faculty are no longer having active discussions about digital pedagogy because many have accepted social media, MOOCs, and other technologies as ways to reimagine their pedagogical practices. Also, the articles I did find closely related to this topic, the faculty were situated in a country outside the United Studies working to implement social media or technologies. For example, “Utilization of social media platforms for educational purposes among the faculty of higher education with special reference to Tamil Nadu” by Vivakaran and Neelamalar (2018) is situated in India.

I read Elizabeth Losh’s “Introduction” in MOOCs and Their Afterlives: Experiments in Scale and Access in Higher Education (2017), and Losh states that the New York Times declared 2012 “the year of the MOOC,” which may explain why I noticed scholarship on this topic circa 2012. In this chapter, Losh elucidates the long-standing history of innovative education that often took the form of a mobile structure to make education accessible to those unable to attend the traditional classroom, as an act of social justice. Social media, MOOCs, and other technologies, in the same way, provide an alternative to the traditional classroom that makes certain knowledge-bases more accessible especially in the advent of mobile technologies. Some of the noted concerns regarding MOOCs is that they challenge the power dynamics between student and instructor as well as concepts of knowledge generation. Losh explains that MOOCs are in use by some to improve low retention rates by connecting traditional classroom elements with MOOC methods. Additionally, MOOCs facilitate inclusion for student participation in instances where students may otherwise be marginalized because of their identities in a traditional classroom. Lastly, this book is concerned with how copyrights are challenged when students are sharing work (like in a photography course) or instructors sharing course materials.

Prior to reading about MOOCs, I was familiar with Coursera because my mother heard about it and recommended that my niece consider taking available courses, but I did not know it was defined as a “MOOC.” I understand how faculty can consider social media, MOOCs, and other technologies as disruptive to the traditional classroom. But, now that we are moving further away from a traditional classroom, especially with how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced education to an online presence, I think it’s beneficial to incorporate concepts from digital pedagogy into our current pedagogical practices.

Reference:

Losh, E. (Ed.). (2017). MOOCs and their afterlives: Experiments in scale and access in higher education. University of Chicago Press.

A Peak Into Open-Access Journals

Prior to this blog, I had not considered what is an open-access journal. I have seen the terminology used but had not questioned its meaning. After conducting a search for open-access journals in the field of Rhetoric and Writing, I quickly learned about Kairos journal, which is described as a “referred open-access” journal with an international readership that explores the intersection of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. Kairos only publishes twice per year and accepts 10% of the manuscripts submitted for publication. I remember reading articles published in Kairos for coursework but did not learn of the context of the journal until now. The intersections the journal explores aligns with my academic background and interests. I am working on a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing, hold a Master’s in Technical Communication, and conducting research that interrogates pedagogical practices. Also, I am interested in building international academic relationships as I venture into the professoriate career path. One of my recent conversations with someone was about publishing in international journals as a way to cross borders and become known in my field. With Kairos having an international readership, if I am fortunate with getting my work published in the journal then I would be making strides towards creating the career that I am imagining.

I considered the following three questions as I analyzed the Kairos journal:

  1. Where (location, organization, university, etc.) is the journal from?
  2. What are the purpose, goals, scope, etc. of the journal?
  3. How does the journal address/explain open access? How (if at all) does it position itself within the open access movement?

Where (location, organization, university, etc.) is the journal from?

  • Situated as a premier journal in English Studies
    International readership (“Ascension Island to Zimbabwe”)
  • Individuals who are on Editorial Review come from various universities across the U.S. and top-scholars in the field of rhetoric and technical communication
  • Editorial staff are members of The Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ)
  • Maintains affiliation with the Computers and Writing Conference to announce the journal’s awards

What are the purpose, goals, scope, etc. of the journal?

  • Examines digital and multimodal composing practices
  • Work that enacts scholarly argument through rhetoric and new media
  • Publishes “webtexts”

How does the journal address/explain open access? How (if at all) does it position itself within the open access movement?

  • Kairos provides a statement of copyright so that authors can be aware of what to expect
  • “Referred” open-access: three-tier editorial review process
  • As an open-access journal, Kairos explains there is no charge for submission to make the journal available for all

The concept of open access aligns with my perspective that knowledge should be free and accessible. In my quick search to understand open access, I learned that open access is an international movement, which has caused discord for some. There have been many times as a junior scholar where I am conducting research for a discourse analysis paper and a journal’s required subscription occludes my access to the article I seek. As we know, university libraries may take on the cost of subscriptions to support equal access to literature because that at the essence is what should happen.

Source:

http://technorhetoric.net/about.html

https://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access

 

Ethics: Consequences of Misconduct in Academic Research

This week I reviewed a case summary submitted by the Department of Health and Human Services that addressed the research misconduct of Anil Potti, M.D., Duke University School of Medicine. The case is from 2015 and is made available by The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) on their website. First, I must say that I was surprised the name of the accused is made public, but also understandable for a field trying to maintain integrity to publicly condemn or denounce those who would threaten the reputation of the field and tarnish the work of other doctors who are operating with integrity. As Dr. Potti was affiliated with Duke University, the university would be that much more compelled to disassociate from Dr. Potti to maintain their reputation and relationship with stakeholders. Secondly, the number of offenses by Dr. Potti is far beyond egregious and was blatantly executed—a minimum of 12 instances of misconduct.

Dr. Potti was found to have reported false research data pursuant to multiple grants from national health organizations. Last week, 9/28/2020, in class we discussed the various positions held within an educational institution and the prerequisites required to obtain said positions. For an associate professor to receive a promotion to a full professor there must be evidence of a stellar record of scholarly productivity and mentor graduate students as well as receiving grant awards with significantly high dollar values (possibly in the millions). I am imagining Dr. Potti’s willingness to engage in dishonesty would be in part to benefit from the accolades associated with winning grants that eventually lead to career advancement.

All publications that Dr. Potti authored or included false data were retracted from the publications. With this information noted in the report, my perspective is broadened about the collateral damage of Dr. Potti’s misconduct. For example, there could be a number of students, educators, and doctors in the field who referenced information from these published works to inform concepts they’re applying in the classroom or industry. The ORI report does not indicate the impact of the misconduct on Dr. Potti’s position as a Duke Associate Professor, but Dr. Potti agreed to specific terms regarding future employment and research:

  1. Supervised research for five years
  2. Submit a plan for supervised duties to ORI as it relates to U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research.
  3. Submit certification by an institution that Dr. Potti’s research data aligns with conducted experiments/accurate reporting
  4. Refrain from holding advisory roles with PHS

All in all, I cannot assess if the punishment for reporting false research data fits the multiple impacts on other students and researchers in the field. I may be too harsh, but I disagree with Dr. Potti having future opportunities to conduct research and apply for grants. The road to associate professor is long when we look at the culminating academic activities required to achieve such a position. During the academic journey, we learn about ethical behavior and teach it to our students. When we engage in such conduct, particularly at this stage in our career, we know better. As I stated earlier, I am unsure about the impact on Dr. Potti’s career at Duke, but employment termination would be an appropriate response to such an act. I was not aware of the ORI prior to this course, but I am disinterested in any thought that might compel me to falsify research data. I will stay focused and vigilant as I move forward in operating in research practices to operate with integrity

University Mission Statement Analysis

For this first blog, I am taking a Future Professoriate class at Virginia Tech, and I explore the nature of mission statements of educational institutions by analyzing two mission statements: Morehouse College and Texas Tech University. Morehouse College is located in a predominantly Black metropolitan, Atlanta, Georgia and an all-male private institution. Texas Tech University is a public university located in Lubbock, Texas, near a region that originated in thousands of slaves who were unaware of their emancipation for years, and their freedom is now celebrated by Black people as Juneteenth (June 19th). I provide both institution’s mission statements below for my analysis.

Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA (Male HBCU)
The mission of Morehouse College is to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service. A private historically black liberal arts college for men, Morehouse realizes this mission by emphasizing the intellectual and character development of its students. In addition, the College assumes special responsibility for teaching the history and culture of black people.

Texas Tech University, Lubbock , TX (PWI)
Committed to teaching and the advancement of knowledge, Texas Tech University, a comprehensive public research university, provides the highest standards of excellence in higher education, fosters intellectual and personal development, and stimulates meaningful research and service to humankind.
I found difficulty in trying to find the Texas Tech University mission statement on their website. I went to the “About” page and there were no clear identifiers to steer me in the right direction. After conducting a Google search for the mission statement in question, I arrived to two mission statements: one for their study abroad and another for international affairs. I resolved to heading back to the “About” page and this time selected the subpage “Texas Tech Facts.” I encountered what appears to be a mission statement that I have noted above. If mission statements are governing language to align stakeholders with the university’s plan, then at a minimum, the mission statement should be easy to locate and clearly identifiable.

Key elements that are explicit in both mission statements are as follows:

College Name

Morehouse College

Texas Tech University

College Type

Private, HBCU, Liberal Arts

Comprehensive public research university

Intended Demographic

Male Only

Not stated

Target Audience

Black Males

Humankind

Mission Focus:

Intellectual and character development

Intellectual and personal development

Teaching the history and culture of Black people

Teaching and the advancement of knowledge

Develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service

Stimulates meaningful research and service

In reviewing both mission statements, Morehouse College’s statement mirrors the university’s demographic (Black males), whereas Texas Tech’s mission statement attempts to account for a broader student population and stakeholders but their student demographic is approximately 60% white. The mission statements are essentially identical as we compare the stated key elements: college name, college type, intended demographic, target audience, and mission focus. The difference between the mission statements is only in that Morehouse is structured for a Black male student population. Texas Tech (a PWI) states a general audience of “humankind” without taking the opportunity  for the integration of diversity into the university’s mission.

In “What do universities want to be? A content analysis of mission and vision statements worldwide,” Julián David Cortés-Sánchez explains that mission statement’s should be centered on the following four questions: “Why an organisation exists,” “What it believes in,” “The policies and behavioural patterns that guide its operations,” and “The strategy for achieving its purpose.” I attempted to place Morehouse College and Texas Tech’s mission statements into this four-question heuristic to identify if what Cortés-Sánchez states as the essence of a mission statement is captured by these universities. I must say I anticipated by choosing these institutions that are of different types and are located in drastically different regions of the country that the mission statements would be just as disparate. I would be interested in knowing if the majority of U.S. institutions are using similar language to meet the structure of the mission statement genre. Is the intent of the mission statement being upheld? Who is actually reading mission statements? Are potential stakeholders making decisions to unite with universities because they share the values and interests stated in the mission statement. My final thoughts are that the mission statement is a signpost and a required element for business structures, but they do not provide the depth that one would anticipate to truly understand the culture of a university.

Questions

Morehouse College

Texas Tech University

Why an organization exists

Develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service

Provides the highest standards of excellence in higher education, fosters intellectual and personal development, and stimulates meaningful research and service to humankind.

What it believes in

Teaching the history and culture of black people

Committed to teaching and the advancement of knowledge

The policies and behavioral patterns that guide its operations

Not clearly defined

Not clearly defined

The strategy for achieving its purpose

Emphasizing the intellectual and character development of its students.

Fosters intellectual and personal development, and stimulates meaningful research and service to humankind

​*Source: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/12/20/what-do-universities-want-to-be-a-content-analysis-of-mission-and-vision-statements-worldwide/