Faculty Race and Pedagogy Workshop

The Office of Inclusive Excellence, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, is implementing a three-part professional development workshop series and yearlong engagement focused on racial equity and pedagogy. This is just one of several initiatives underway as a response to the June listening sessions and expression of our desire to be a community that “mourns in movement” toward reconciliation and repair. 

The second workshop in the three-part series will be offered on Wednesday, December 2nd, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. The third session will be held on Thursday, January 21, 2021, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

All workshops will be held remotely via Zoom in a synchronous format. Workshops will not be recorded. For Zoom meeting details, please refer to the calendar invitation sent to all faculty via email; if you have any questions, please contact us at vpoie@spu.edu

Although we encourage you to join all three workshops, sessions will be somewhat stand-alone to allow for participation at any stage. Sessions will also be structured in a way that enables learning to be scaffolded and deepened. Finally, each workshop will incorporate opportunities for reflection, analysis, and classroom practice around the following goals and themes:

  • Explore how our identities shape racial dynamics in the classroom. Good conversations about sensitive topics are best when deliberative and intentional. They encourage reflection, understanding of different voices and perspectives, and hold space for complexity. They also take skill, as well as an awareness of our identities and experiences as teachers. The workshop series will offer conversation and tools to create a welcoming space in our classrooms for honest debate and discussion about race and other sensitive topics. We’ll explore a range of content and pedagogy issues: Who are we as teachers and students? How do our identities, experiences, and miseducation play out? How might we set the stage for talking about race and racism knowing that we’re coming into the room so differently based on our identities and experiences? How might we explore a topic from multiple perspectives with minimal shame, fear and reprisal for both us as faculty and the students in our classroom? Why might it be useful to rethink our expertise as faculty, and instead, make room for our different experiences?
  • Cultivate the skills to talk and teach about race and racism. How we talk and teach about race and racism in our classrooms can either bring folks in, or keep folks out. If we understand how race is often fraught, unpredictable, and uncomfortable for both us and our students, we can often approach these moments with more equanimity and care. As we move through the workshop series, these are the types of questions we will engage: What’s the broader racial landscape, and how does that effect what goes on in our classrooms? How does systematic racism show up in the classroom, and how might we reduce its harm? What’s the connection between teaching about race and anti-racist teaching? How might we de-center the dominant narrative and re-center students in authentic ways? We will also consider the specific ways our intellectual fields and disciplines have thematized race, and continue to practice tools to be better classroom facilitators. 

  • Offer space to workshop various scenarios that play out in our classrooms. While we often teach with good intentions and a commitment to represent different voices and perspectives, many of us still struggle in navigating sensitive discussions about race, gender, sexuality, power and privilege with our students. We need opportunities to workshop various scenarios that play out in our classrooms: What if I say the wrong thing? What if someone says something inflammatory or offensive? What if things go out of hand? How do I productively manage conflict or big feelings in the classroom while still somewhat staying on track with my curriculum? We'll work with case studies, practice skills, and leave the workshop better poised to approach the tough but necessary conversations we know we need to be having with our students.

As we hope to foster a culture of collegiality and support for anti-racist teaching, we are asking that you meet in trios or quartets to continue conversations and skills building in between workshop sessions. This is an opportunity to establish a team of “first responders” you can call on when issues arise in the classroom and to practice problem solving in a low stakes way.

About Our Facilitator

Dr. Anu Taranath brings both passion and expertise to her work as a speaker, facilitator and educator. A professor at the University of Washington, she teaches about global literatures, race, gender, identity, and equity. A four-time member of Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Dr. Anu has also received the Seattle Weekly’s “Best of Seattle” recognition, the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and multiple US Fulbright Fellowships to work abroad. As a racial equity consultant and facilitator, Dr. Anu engages colleges, community orgs, businesses and government agencies to deepen people’s comfort with uncomfortable topics & work toward equity and social justice. More at www.anutaranath.com

Will you accept the challenge to participate in the workshop series as we commit to deepening our capacity to talk and teach about race and racism? Will you receive this invitation to step into redemptive places, as we continue to address the ways in which racism is manifested in our lives and relationships with systems, institutions, and one another?

Posted: Monday, November 23, 2020