SUNY New Paltz is committed to implementing greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). At this charged moment, it is imperative that we provide students with a critical apparatus to think about the practice of these values, as well as silenced US histories and their contexts in the world. Centering conversations on DEI also allows us to consider transnational currents and diverse global cultures and contexts. This commitment to DEI calls on us to develop curricula, practices, and programs that engage with dynamics of social inequality and racism in the US and abroad. The main challenges are time, support, and focus.
The yearlong Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Fellowship for full-time academic and professional faculty will enable faculty to meet these challenges. Applicants will present plans for integrating DEI into a current or future course or program and, at the end of the year, submit a revised or new syllabus that demonstrates how this happens. In the course of the year, Fellows will have two main commitments:
- attend meetings with their cohort to discuss materials and pedagogy and
- program a retreat with experts in DEI pedagogy. Topics could include issues relevant to LGBTQ+, disability, mental health, structural racism and First Generation concerns, among others.
We follow the model of the successful and popular Sustainability Faculty Fellow program, which has given 60 faculty members the ability to develop innovative curricula, undergo training in the area, and meet four times a year with faculty colleagues. DEI faculty applicants will be selected to participate by the Diversity Committee, a branch of the Curriculum Committee of the Faculty Senate.
This initiative was created by faculty, for faculty and remains entirely within our purview. We thank Interim Provost Barbara Lyman for granting us funds to cover a $250 stipend for each DEI faculty fellow.
By creating a group of DEI Faculty Fellows, we will
- foster an interdisciplinary community to help and support each other;
- offer a stipend ($250) and institutional recognition for professional development and innovative teaching as incentive and appreciation for the refocused work;
- assure that these efforts in curricular and programmatic reform will be acknowledged on the annual report, applications for reappointment, tenure and promotion (RTP), and Discretionary Salary Increase (DSI);
- provide substantive training in the area through peer-to-peer mentorship and the expertise of invited speakers and community partners;
- build a SUNY New Paltz-specific framework for pedagogy and research, rather than meet demands for curricular change with a rushed or prescribed sense of duty;
- define clear expectations and support for Fellows to allay fears of being over-burdened;
- invite the Fellows to share publicly, each spring, their innovative ideas for increasing connection and mutual understanding on our campus;
- create a cohort to guide future Fellows in a reciprocal mentoring capacity and who would broaden interest in curricular and programmatic change across the campus community.
The fellowship will also be an excellent platform for working with students to develop tools to contest systemic oppression and supremacist ideologies and to overcome racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, neuronormativity and other social forms of aggression and destruction. This exchange will give students insight into curricular debates and pedagogical thinking among faculty while making them actively part of rethinking and re-envisioning teaching and higher education in these difficult and inspiring days.
Questions? Michelle Woods (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sarah Wyman (email@example.com)
Painting by Emily Grenader