The Summer Institute on Inclusive Teaching and Learning is intended to expose VCU faculty members, staff members, and graduate students to a range of opportunities, strategies, and techniques for addressing the inclusiveness of their courses, curricula, programs, and services.

Inclusive teaching can be viewed as encompassing issues of access to educational opportunities; student involvement in academic work as well as personal and professional growth; student retention and success; and classroom and institutional climate. A personal and institutional commitment to inclusive teaching in higher education requires us to engage in on-going reflection and dialogue about persistent social challenges (e.g., privilege, discrimination, and implicit biases such as racism, sexism, heterocentrism, ableism, and classism; assumptions about societal and cultural norms; historical and economic disparities; varying degrees of family and community support; differences in life experiences, beliefs, abilities, and learning/cognitive styles; and perceptions of authority and power) with respect to our classrooms and campuses, and this Summer Institute provides an opportunity for faculty members, staff members, and graduate students to examine course/curriculum design and classroom practice/pedagogy as well as programs, services, and interactions with students in ways that can cultivate inclusiveness and student success at VCU.

What can a participant expect?

  • An intensive, week-long experience where participants and facilitators, together, uncover strategies for becoming more inclusive teachers, learners, and leaders at VCU.
  • A sustained, year-long process of design, application, assessment, and discussion of these strategies with the mutual understanding that we need to share our insights with our colleagues, with our departments/units, and with the campus community.
  • An on-going partnership with the Center for Teaching Excellence to collaboratively design workshops, facilitate brown bag lunches, gather and compile student feedback along with other evidence of teaching effectiveness, create and share course portfolios, organize public discussions and presentations about inclusiveness in the classroom/campus, establish peer-review strategies for teaching materials and classroom observation practices within their departments, and/or return to co-design and facilitate sessions during the 2013 Summer Institute.
  • An opportunity to contribute to institutional goals associated with Theme I of the VCU Quest for Distinction (2011-2017), to “become a leader among national research universities in providing all students with high quality learning/living experiences focused on inquiry, discovery, and innovation in a global environment”.
  • Upon successful completion of the Summer Institute, participants who anticipate partnering with the CTE throughout the year are eligible for $500 in professional development funds to use to support his or her inclusive teaching projects throughout the 2012-2013 academic year. (Applicants who would be interested in attending only the week-long event would not be eligible for these funds.) Examples of acceptable use of funds include but are not limited to: conference travel and registration, educational equipment/resources, computer hardware/software, etc.
  • A letter of support from the Center for Teaching Excellence, documenting activities undertaken as a partner with the CTE by the conclusion of the 2013 Summer Institute, which could be included in promotion, tenure, or annual review materials.

Anticipated outcomes

The Summer Institute on Inclusive Teaching and Learning provides an intensive, sustained environment for VCU faculty members, staff members, and graduate students to…

  • Reflect upon aspects of knowledge production, methods of discourse, and learning in their disciplines;
  • Acknowledge multiple and intersecting dimensions of their students’ and colleagues’ identities and the rich opportunities for learning that these afford;
  • Align one or more of their upcoming courses with diversity-related learning outcomes in their disciplines (such as culturally-informed deliberation or holistic-critical thinking);
  • Transform course content, structure, classroom dynamics and climate, and/or teaching methods to address the learning needs and life experiences of a diverse population of students;
  • Design systems for documenting course-, program-, or service-level changes and student success within their course(s), program(s), or service(s);
  • Develop skills to become effective leaders for curricular change in their own units by anticipating barriers and navigating unexpected challenges to enrichment.
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