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Posted 02.23.05

Diversity Seminar and Training Scheduled for Faculty and Staff

Are traditional teaching methods keeping pace with the increasingly diverse population of college students nationwide? Or worse are college faculty shying away from balanced teaching or research on race and ethnicity issues altogether because of the incendiary nature of the topics? 

These are just some of the issues that were discussed at a seminar titled “Effective Teaching in Racially Diverse Classrooms,” February 28 in the Admission Office’s McKelvey Room.

The presenter, Franklin A. Tuitt, Ph.D., has done many seminars on the subject of race in the college classroom, as well as extensive research in the subject. This includes a recent stint as a Cabot Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning where he conducted a study on student evaluations on courses taught by black and white faculty. While at Harvard, Tuitt has also developed instructional resources for teaching effectively in racially diverse college classrooms. He also worked as director of residential life and housing at Wesleyan from 1991 to 1994.

"This program was a wonderful and timely opportunity for faculty to discuss important and complicated issues,” says Judith Brown, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “All of us have a lot to learn about this subject from conversations with each other and with experts in the field.”

Tuitt’s presentation for Wesleyan faculty will focus on methods for addressing situations that can emerge in racially diverse classrooms, as well as discussing issues that arise when teaching race-related content. There will be opportunity for faculty in attendance to discuss strategies, techniques and case studies related to their own classroom experiences.

The presentation is the latest installment of the Race in the Classroom Series that is being offered this academic year by the Center for Faculty Career Development and the Office of Affirmative Action.  Other presentations have included: “Stereotype Threat,” presented by Geoffrey Cohen assistant professor of psychology from Yale University and “The History of Whiteness,” presented by Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University.

“The presentations have been well attended, although there is always room for more,” says Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, professor of classical studies, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, and director of the Center for Faculty Career Development. 

Wesleyan staff will also be attending mandatory specialized diversity training workshops in the coming weeks presented by representatives from the A World of Difference Institute. The training will be called “A Campus of Difference” and will focus on practical skills to challenge prejudice and discrimination and foster inter-group understanding.

By David Pesci, Director of Media Relations