What part of the Circle are you Staring at?
Being Inclusive in the academia. This is a very important and sensitive topic. I’d like to start with an idea, that’s greatly heard of, but not always applied. Once upon a time there were two circles. The two circles had unique aspects to them, and the two circles also had similarities. When trying to coexist with one another, they had a terrible time whenever they kept exploiting their differences. However, once they began looking at their similarities, they realized they overlapped. There was this lovely space where both of them were comfortable, and they felt at home. This space was the overlapping space of their circles. This overlapping space is similar to the similarities found between any two humans. They could focus on their differences, or a lot better, focus on their similarities and coexist peacefully.
In the modern day, everyone is supposed to have equal rights. However, as Shankar Vedantam mentioned in the interview with NPR titled “How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us“, he mentions how many people have preset biases that form, even in 3 year-olds. These preset biases don’t allow the world to be fair, and don’t allow people equal opportunities if and only if they take their biases to the next level. In other words, if someone acts on their biases, the outcome usually isn’t too great. At the same time, if an environment is diverse, inclusive, includes both genders– the company is more successful, and makes more revenue as mentioned here. That is huge, that diversity can do such wonderful things for a company, and increase it’s revenue.
In thinking about being inclusive, there are many people who stand out and don’t always face the warmest environment. People face profiling due to their skin color, religion, age, race, and many more. Some of this, I strongly believe has a strong association with the media. The media plays a huge role in creating biases and judgement towards races. They can totally portray people in a way that lacks reality. Unfortunately, human nature is that people are generally afraid of what they don’t know or don’t understand. So many times, people may be afraid of others even more because the media said something bad about it. However, this doesn’t end except through awareness. Awareness and the spread of intellect is the way to get people to be more inclusive and welcoming to differences.
The most inclusive environment in America is the academia. It is more inclusive than the real world, and more inclusive than industry. The academia isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what the world has to carry. And the better the academia becomes, the more there will be hope for the real world and other institutions that are not academic.
To be more inclusive in the academia and in the real world we must respect our differences. We must not shed excessive light on these differences. Instead, we should respect the differences. We should always look for what we have in common with others, rather than what’s different (or what we aren’t comfortable with). When we do that, we will be facilitating a more inclusive environment. We will look for similarities, and a peaceful life– rather than focus on differences which could lead to conflict.
So are you focusing on where the circles overlap?!
February 28, 2016 @ 3:47 pm
Thank you for the post!
I really liked this circles metaphor. I want just to add something, Even if the circles don’t overlap they have to recognize that they both share the same type of geometric properties. They both have radius, circumference, area, …. Even if their properties are different, they should coexist so that they can be used to create a beautiful drawing (i.e. two small circles can represent eyes, and one bug circle can represent head!). The same should hold for humans. They are all sons of Adam and Eve. They have different colors, tongues, beliefs, … but they all should coexists to better know and learn from each other.
March 1, 2016 @ 4:53 pm
Thank you for your comment! That’s true, they do have the same geometric properties, and that is a very essential point. In addition, I completely agree, coexisting is key, because we all have the same origin. The differences are far less than what’s in common. Thanks for your comment!
March 1, 2016 @ 11:13 am
I appreciate the circles illustration. Somewhat in response to Mohammed’s comment, as humans, we should always have some overlap with everyone. Taking that further, as learners and members of the University community, we have even more overlapping, regardless of differences. In light of that, I love the illustration of the circles and recognizing our overlaps as well as utilizing the differences that do not reside in that area. Wholism in action.
March 1, 2016 @ 4:58 pm
Thank you for your comment, Cody! Without universities there are already a lot in common between individuals. However, in the university there is more in common among the students than anywhere else. This is particularly true, because there is a blend of education touching our lives. Education tends to enlighten, and shed more light on the commonalities.
March 1, 2016 @ 4:40 pm
The circle imagery is a nice way of encouraging people to look at their similarities instead of solely focusing on their differences. You mention that academia is the most inclusive environment. Academia is certainly striving towards being inclusive, but I do think that we still have a long way to go. There are definitely a few private institutions of higher education which seem to not be garnering equally towards all student demographics. Regardless, I do understand where you are coming from. Really like how you mention we should look towards our similarities. How do you think that you would facilitate this mentality in the classroom? Curious on your thoughts as it is a powerful idea.
March 1, 2016 @ 6:41 pm
Thanks for sharing!
As Greg’s I also think this can be a powerful idea. However, there is something that we need to consider and be very careful about it. You mention to focus on the similarities, and comment “We will look for similarities, and a peaceful life– rather than focus on differences which could lead to conflict.” I think it is important to mention that differences shouldn’t be leading to conflicts. It’s not OK to have to find what things make us similar in order to be able to have a peaceful life. We should be able to have a peaceful life recognizing, honoring, and being proud of our differences. But I do see your point and the need to start by something on a very complex issue.
My ideal situation is that circle, triangle, square, and line with no shape can recognize, respect and interact without anyone having a privilege over one another, and respecting every single aspect of them.
Again, we need to start by something so I’m interested in learning how we can bring this into the classroom?
March 2, 2016 @ 3:24 pm
Thank you for your post and a great metaphor! I think that knowing we have these biases, even though we have them from a very young age as discussed in “The Hidden Brain,” is important step in not acting on them and continuing the cycle of oppression, as you mentioned. As discussed by others above, I also think academia has a ways to go in achieving a truly inclusive environment, but at least many universities (including Tech!) have recognized that there are biases present and are actively working to improve the academic environment.
This reminded me of a discussion we had in class regarding home-schooling versus the public school system. In that discussion, I think someone mentioned that one of the major benefits of public schooling is socialization, allowing students to learn how to act around and work with their peers. I don’t think that the socialization that the education system provides ends with grade school. Rather, the university setting, with its generally increased diversity from grade school, is a great place to continue this important training in how to treat and work with others different from ourselves. Thanks again!