Seeking equity in teaching, faculty gather at USC institute

June 20, 2018

Participants at the event committed to spreading strategies back home

By Rossier Staff

Faculty attendees at the Center for Urban Education’s most recent teaching institute discuss techniques to improve racial equity in their own teaching. (Photo/Adrian Trinidad)

In an effort to make their campuses and classrooms more supportive and effective for students of color, faculty from across the country joined a high-level two-day training this month to build their skills and knowledge around racial equity.

The Equity-Minded Teaching Institute, held by the USC Rossier Center for Urban Education, focused on giving faculty tools to create equitable curricula; form more meaningful relationships with students of color; and develop what CUE calls “equity-mindedness,” an active awareness of how race impacts students and faculty.

“Student success is dependent on what happens in the classroom, which is why it’s so critical to make sure faculty develop equity-mindedness,” said Estela Mara Bensimon, director of CUE and a Dean’s Professor at USC Rossier. “When faculty know how to make use of data, reflect on how their practices affect students of color and constantly keep racial equity at the center of their work, that creates an environment where all students can thrive.”

Twenty-three institutions sent faculty to the institute, including Penn State University, the University of Minnesota and City College of San Francisco. The institute included hands-on workshops to build skills including working with disaggregated data, assessing syllabi for equity-mindedness and analyzing campus practices for racial bias.

Sessions prompted participants to reflect on how their racial identity impacts their teaching and provided protocols for faculty to understand the role of race in their classroom practices. The campus teams will spend the fall semester implementing those skills and passing them along to their colleagues, with frequent in-person support from CUE.

The event also featured presentations from several outside experts on equity, including Milagros Castillo-Montoya, a professor of higher education at the University of Connecticut.

“The Equity-Minded Teaching Institute presented a unique opportunity for faculty to think about equity in their teaching practice,” said Sarah Klotz, associate director of institutional leadership and transformation at CUE and an assistant research professor at USC Rossier. “This was the first event to bring together CUE’s work on data, classroom observation and syllabus review with Castillo-Montoya’s work on demystifying disciplinary knowledge through students’ lived experiences.”

This event marked the third equity-focused institute held by CUE over the past year. The center’s next institute, on June 20-21, brings together faculty from all 23 California State Universities to learn about improving equity on their respective campuses.

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