I would have to say that Inclusion and Diversity in a Global Society has been the most impactful class I have taken so far. I walked into this class with a preconceived notion of what inclusion was and what it looked like, both in the classroom and the workplace. Through this class I was able to challenge my own perspective and grow from learning about other’s perspectives. Sometimes (or all the time) it is hard to see outside of your own bubble and your own experiences. Through open communication, empathetic ears, and sense of acceptance, this class created valuable learning opportunities. We were asked to question our own privileges, recognize our biases (both conscious and unconscious), and acknowledge each other’s identities.
One of the reasons this class was so impactful was the professors’ dedication to creating a safe and brave space for their students. Below are a few of the key components that I feel made this class so valuable:
- Inclusion from Day One – On the first day of class we were given a blank piece of paper and asked to write our names and preferred pronouns. The professors introduced themselves and then each student followed with their own introduction. We talked about class, not only in terms of course overview, but expectations for interaction: respect, listen, support, moderate. The first day set the tone for the rest of the semester.
- Games – A few times we used games as way to discuss certain topics. Conversation about inclusion and diversity gets heavy at times, so the introduction of a game as way of accessing deeper meaning was a great tool. It allowed for student engagement and collaboration.
- Small Class – The size of the class was small which allowed for very fluid and open conversations. We all got a chance to speak and be heard. We also got the chance to really get to know each other which made the space feel safe and encouraging.
- Multiple Disciplines – Having a multidisciplinary classroom allowed room for different viewpoints and experiences. We were able to learn about other departments in terms of inclusion and diversity.
- Potluck – Somewhere along the semester we discovered our love of food so, as a class, we decided to put on a potluck, and it was amazing. The professors even participated too. It was held on the last day of class and even though we were all doing our final presentations, the atmosphere was casual and friendly. Not sure this counts as a teaching component, but if anything brings people closer together, its food!
This class was a great experience and I hope to bring the tools I have learned here into the classroom, in all aspects of this class. My goal as an educator is to teach a design studio class, which are generally small. One of my priorities is to teach them how to create spaces and experiences for other people and have the ability to be aware of inclusion in terms of society as well as the built environment. By implementing a few of the key components mentioned above, I hope to create an inclusive environment for my students.