Tufts University is committed to creating a diverse, affirming, and empowering academic and scholarly environment for all of our students, faculty, and staff. Our institution was founded upon the values of authenticity, civility, dignity, humility, open-mindedness, curiosity, excellence, social justice, and a sense of belonging.
To engage faculty/staff/administrators in a sustained dialogue that fosters heighted empathy, cultural awareness, and challenges of stigmatized populations within Tufts University
To impart concrete strategies to improve interpersonal engagement and cultural appreciation of our diverse body of students, colleagues and university stakeholders.
To foster an overall culture of shared responsibility for culturally-informed engagement across divisions/disciplines/ professional hierarchy.
To develop a highly visible project that directly addresses the university’s strategic priorities, foundational elements and themes.
To cultivate change agency skills among faculty/staff/administrators that enhance their ability to address structural inequities, cultivate a climate of inclusion, and inform equitable practices in settings where program participants have direct influence (ex. inclusive hiring practices, programmatic initiatives, classroom instruction/curriculum, supervision/coaching of diverse teams, university policy and leadership practices)
To improve the overall sense of belonging among stigmatized populations with the university- including students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders.
To develop a sustained network of program participants and program “alum” following completion of program offering, increasing institutional cohesiveness and a shared commitment to inclusion among campus professionals.
Structure and Time Commitment
Learning community participants will be assigned to a cohort comprised of two trained participant-facilitators and learning community participants. Each cohort will be assembled with the intention of connecting colleagues across academic disciplines, departments, divisions, schools, professional roles, social identities, and other aspects of their background.
Participants will join their cohort for fifteen 90-minute sessions, with dates and times TBD.
Part One: The “Unlearning Process”
Throughout Part One, participants will review readings and engage in dialogue/activities around topics examining social equity, systemic oppression, and cultural competency. The goal of this work will be to cultivate and challenge epistemological foundations among participants. Readings and activities are designed to challenge myths/tropes/narratives that inform oppressive mentalities, increase awareness of conscious and unconscious bias, increase understanding of the structural inequality, and explore the ways in which individuals and systems reinforce or disrupt these narratives, attitudes, inequitable practices, etc.
Key foundations include, but are not limited to:
Cycle of Socialization and Normalization/Marginalization of Experience
Social Identities & Intersections of Identities
Power and Privilege, Prejudice, and Systemic Oppression
Manifestations of Marginalization within Higher Education (interpersonal, cultural, institutional/structural)
Internalized Dominance and Subordination (Psychological Colonization)
Myth of Meritocracy, the American Dream and American Identity
Effective Responses to Guilt and Maintenance of Accountability
Hegemony and Structural Differences in Power
Key Areas of Cultural Competency/Incompetency, Social Stigma and Oppression
Collusion, Allyship/Change Agency, and Effective Use of Privilege for Social Change
Part Two: Creating “Brave Spaces”
During Part Two, participants will engage in discussions that examine the everyday experiences of marginalized populations within higher education, explore the factors that influence campus climate, and prepare participants to engage in change agency from their respective locations within the institution. Readings will serve as tools to engage in deeper discussions of the experiences and perspectives among colleagues in each cohort. Participants will be encouraged to share personal experiences, observations, challenges, and histories that illustrate their experiences navigating interpersonal marginalization, privilege, and structural oppression. Participant-facilitators will guide this process and prompt continual self-reflection, critical thinking, and structural analysis that strengthen participant’s overall commitment and capacity to create an equitable and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty, staff, and university stakeholders.