Multicultural education workshop in the College of Design

By Si Li

The instructors in the College of Design became students in the newly opened workshop named “Expanding Diversity Perspectives: A Curriculum Development Workshop”. Geneva Gay, the expert on multicultural education and the winner of the Multicultural Educator Award by the National Association of Multicultural Education, was invited to be the instructor in the workshop.

Opening a workshop for faculty members was the first move of Town Hall on Diversity this semester. Town Hall on Diversity is a leadership council about diversity and inclusion in the College of Design. It was originally founded by Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez last semester with the purpose of creating a safe group to talk about inequality. The meetings were called Diversity Town Hall Meeting and only opened for the students in the College of Design previously, but recently changed its name to Town Hall On Diversity and opened for all students.

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The members of Town Hall On Diversity are getting together for weekly meetings.

“Compared to last semester, we add more activities and events rather than only having discussions,” said Audrey Kennis, the multicultural liaison officer in the College of Design. “We hire a equity adviser who works with faculty and staff about multicultural problems. The biggest upgrade is the two-day faculty workshop. We brought international speakers who focus on culture and responsibility teaching.”

The main goals of the workshop are to help instructors create a more inclusive classroom and to help them feel more confortable when they are dealing with multicultural issues.

The feedback from instructors and students are mostly positive.

Shan He, senior majoring in landscape architecture said, “I think workshop is great way to continue the discussion and can really change the inequality situation in our college. Instructors can set the tone for classroom so it is necessary for them to have a comprehensive understanding of multiculturalism and diversity.”

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Audrey Kennis works in her office.

Although the workshop was only opened for two days this semester, the Town Hall on Diversity planned to work with the ISU Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and University Museums continually to make it an annual workshop.

“We do not want a one and done workshop. If you want to change the culture, it can’t be something you do one time. It has to be repetitive and it has to be continued,” Kennis said.

As an international student and landscape architecture major student, Xinman Liu said, “ I am very proud of my college making the first move bravely and is actually doing something to change the unequal situation.”

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