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Organizing to Advance Antiracism, Equity, and Inclusion

Following discussions in June in the wake of George Floyd's killing, many DePaul College of Education faculty and staff engaged in activities over the summer to move forward regarding ideas expressed in the Statement of Support and Commitment. In the spirit of transparency and to foster an open dialogue, the staff and faculty report the following activities that took place over the summer of 2020. All activities were facilitated by faculty/staff or faculty; all members of the COE community were invited to participate.

Summer Learning

Learning together

Faculty and staff organized a series of events for July and August, with the goals of creating safe spaces to share thoughts and ideas about racism, equity, and inclusion, as well as to reflect on how such ideas impact our lives and work.

  • Discussion of How to be an Antiracist, July 17, facilitated by Nora Murphy and Becky Michel, six participants
  • Discussion of So you want to Talk about Race, July 28, facilitated by Hilary Conklin, eight participants
  • Discussion of When they see Us, August 7, facilitated by Sarah Magnuson and Amy Feiker Hollenbeck, six participants
  • Discussion of I am not your Negro, August 21, facilitated by Sarah Magnuson and Amy Feiker Hollenbeck, ten participants
  • White affinity group discussions held biweekly, facilitated by Becky Michel, eight participants

K-12 professional development

A series of three racial equity webinars were coordinated through the Office of Innovative Professional Learning (OIPL) by Donna Kiel and OIPL adjunct faculty, Dr. Tina Curry. Entitled RISE: Educators Rise for Racial Equity, the series of webinars provided participants with practices of reflection, inquiry, self-awareness, and empathy as keys to examine racial equity both personally and professionally. The webinars offered pedagogical practices aligned with trauma-informed teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy. Over 200 K-12 educators participated in the series. The webinars were funded by a grant that OIPL received from the Barat Education Foundation through the Library of Congress.

Summer Planning

Recognizing that reading, viewing, and talking about issues related to race and systemic racism is only the beginning of our work, we’ve also taken active steps to prepare for the year ahead, as next described.

Planning efforts focused on faculty and staff development

College of Education faculty and staff organized as advocates of antiracism, equity, and inclusion, meeting multiple times to plan and coordinate summer learning opportunities, as well as to discuss the potential for affinity group discussions in the academic year ahead. Based on these discussions, Hilary Conklin, faculty member, coordinated with outside facilitators to plan a series of monthly discussions involving faculty and staff for the 2020-21 academic year, both whole group and affinity group activities. We look forward to meeting in community to explore critical issues.

Planning efforts focused on student support

College of Education staff and faculty organized to discuss concrete ways to support Students of Color in the COE as well as to promote antiracist ideas, practices, and curriculum, meeting three times between the beginning of August and September, with plans to continue to meet in the upcoming academic year. This group grounded their conversations in the experiences and voices of DePaul students, the 35 students who participated in the Student Forum in June 2020 to discuss the murder of George Floyd, and the 27 students who approached administration to advocate for greater inclusion of antiracist principles and culturally responsive practices within College of Education coursework. The group recognizes the need to foster meaningful dialogue that includes students of all backgrounds as well as to take concrete steps to make the DePaul College of Education a more equitable and inclusive environment for all. Projects currently underway include creating a reflective tool to help faculty think critically about course design and creating a model/diagram to represent the values of the College of Education. Our work is just beginning; we look forward to bringing a variety of students’ perspectives into our conversations.

Planning efforts focused on K-12 professional development

OIPL was requested by the Office of Catholic Schools to provide the RISE: Racial Equity Program as a series of three webinars for Catholic elementary schools throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago. The program will run in September for elementary schools. As part of the same initiative, OIPL will work with Catholic high schools to engage high school faculty in examining racism and address equity needs. OIPL, with funding from the Library of Congress grant, will expand the RISE webinars to become a six module micro-credential which will be offered to K-12 teachers beginning in November 2020.

Next Steps and Broadening Participation

Across summer meetings, whether coming together to learn collaboratively or to organize for change, staff and faculty participants have been deeply engaged with one another and the issues. We do not seek simple answers or immediate action steps; rather, we recognize that this work is a process that involves time, commitment, open hearts, and a willingness to ask hard questions despite the discomfort that may arise. As the summer closes and we consider the academic year ahead, we look forward to expanding these conversations to all members of the College of Education; inviting others to bring their ideas and talents to bear on the challenges of supporting students to teach, lead, and counsel for equity; and engaging with both students and alumni while addressing issues related to antiracism, equity, and inclusion. We also encourage the College of Education Faculty Council and the Staff Council to consider their responsibilities in relation to this work and to prioritize the distinct Vincentian aspects of our mission that foster thoughtful and collaborative action for change.