Inclusive Classroom Institute

What do we mean by “inclusive classroom”? In an inclusive classroom, the instructor –

  • Works to expand personal awareness of one’s own bias and its impact
  • Fosters critical awareness of multiple perspectives in class and elsewhere
  • Employs teaching methods that acknowledge the variety of student backgrounds and abilities
  • Nurtures mutual respect and supports empathic awareness of others’ experiences
  • Promotes equitable opportunities for academic success for all students
  • Works to develop skill in managing difficult conversations in class

How do our strategic goals support our work to develop and nurture inclusive classrooms? The “Embracing our Differences as One Human Family” strategic priority includes the following goal: To “actively develop our students’ capacity for engaging in and growing from a broad range of world views, values and life experiences, thereby realizing our mission to prepare them for the increasingly diverse world they will encounter after graduation.”

At St. Thomas, our mission, convictions, and strategic directions all support the goal of creating inclusive classrooms. To do so, we need to consider course content, pedagogical approaches, our own biases and classroom behaviors, and our knowledge of students’ backgrounds and skills. This workshop series offers opportunities to build awareness, gain understanding, and implement new pedagogical strategies to improve the learning climate for all students.

All faculty are welcome to register for any workshop, whether or not they are working toward certification. As we schedule workshops, they will be listed on our Events web page.

The Inclusive Classroom Institute has four elements, described below: the curriculum, peer support, assessment/research, and promoting recognition across the university.

  1. The Inclusive Classroom Certification: Faculty can earn an Inclusive Classroom Certificate by participating in a total of six workshops and completing the workshop's application activity. Faculty must complete the Preparing for Day One Workshop and may choose from a variety of workshops (see sample workshops below) to complete the certificate. Workshop application activities are composed of a variety of hands-on and/or reflective exercises intended to deepen understanding and application of concepts discussed in the workshop. 
  2. Peer support: In addition, Faculty Development will facilitate a Faculty Learning Community on Racial Justice Pedagogy and Intersectionality for faculty who are engaged in inclusive classroom efforts and/or working toward certification.
  3. Assessment/research: Each workshop will be evaluated by participants and application will be assessed through evaluation of application exercises. In addition, faculty working toward certification will be invited to participate in a research project to examine teaching and learning outcomes of Institute training.
  4. Promoting institutional support: Deans and Department Chairs will be informed of the Institute and asked to explore appropriate forms of reward/recognition for faculty engaged in the work of enhancing inclusion and broadening student success strategies to reach all students.

Sample Workshops

Preparing for Day One (Required for certification)
Course Design for the Common Good: Transparency and Equity in the Classroom
Facilitating Challenging Conversations
Cultivating Contention: Creating an Intentional Culture of Dialogue
Race, Racism, and Privilege
Fostering Inclusion in STEM Classrooms
The Global Classroom
Creating the Accessible Syllabus

Participating faculty complete at least 6 workshops in the year-long series while also completing a variety of related assignments such as:

  • Creating an “Inclusive Excellence” syllabus statement
  • Identifying a personal implicit bias (using the online IAT test) and design strategies for minimizing it
  • Design and carry out a discussion on a challenging topic; provide a written reflection on it
  • Design an activity to help international students get integrated more effectively in your course
  • Facilitate student development of guidelines for a Brave Space classroom
  • Re-design two assignments in your course using Transparency principles
  • Structure a “contentious conversation” in your class
  • Create an accessible syllabus using universal design principles and relevant Word document formatting strategies

See what faculty participants have to say about the Inclusive Classroom Institute!