JEDI Working Group 2 Update: Curriculum, Teaching and Advising
Dr. Christine Sorrell Dinkins (lead), Kenan Professor of Philosophy; Dr. Begoña Caballero, dean of diversity and inclusion, associate professor of Spanish; Dylan Goshorn ’22, vice president of Campus Union; Dr. Trina Janiec Jones, associate provost for curriculum and co-curriculum, professor of religion; Dr. Dan Mathewson, associate provost for faculty development, associate professor of religion.
Our working group has explored questions of pedagogy, classroom environment, curriculum (general education and majors), student success, student preparation gaps (especially in STEM), advising (general education and major), equity-focused professional development for faculty and staff, and better accountability and structures to ensure equity in the student academic experience. To inform our process, members of this group have met with Dr. Carol Wilson ’81, who coordinates the general education advising program; Dr. John Miles and Dr. Ben Bryan, Office of Institutional Research; academic department chairs and representatives of the biology department. We also received input and information from Dr. Boyce Lawton, dean for student success, and Amy Lancaster ’01, dean of international programs. In addition, Dr. Jones met with Campus Union officers and with members of WARC (Wofford Anti-Racism Coalition) in her capacity as associate provost over the summer; she shared information from these meetings with the rest of the working group. We have worked with the Office of Institutional Research to gather information about student achievement and persistence rates, including DFWI data (the rate of D and F grades, withdrawals and incompletes), along with enrollment in majors, disaggregated by race, ethnicity and Pell-eligible status, with a particular focus on courses that serve as gateways to majors or career paths.
Informed by conversations with students and colleagues, we are in the process of discussing a variety of curricular initiatives to present to the JEDI committee and, if approved, present to the faculty for consideration. These initiatives include:
- A general education requirement for Race & Ethnicity (R&E) specific to the U.S., analogous to the current Cultures & Peoples requirement.
- The creation of race, ethnicity and equity-focused course modules or courses for all majors.
- Curriculum design and professional development to allow for more thoughtful diversity and inclusion teachings in all FYI (First Year Interaction Seminar) courses and first-year orientation.
Our data gathering and sharing is still in process. Some of our outstanding goals include:
- Noting inequities evidenced in the data at a general and department level.
- Presenting these data to the JEDI committee and to the faculty to provide groundwork for a conversation about what faculty can do, individually and collectively, to improve equity in our academic program.
- Gathering data on how much of our current general education and overall curriculum is focused on white colonial Western knowledge and history.
We will work with Institutional Research on this question and ask departments to share what they already offer or are working on that involves R&E – for instance courses, course modules, courses that involve BIPOC authors, exploration of inclusive pedagogies, R&E history relevant to the discipline.
In our focus on advising, we discussed with department chairs some of the work individual departments are doing to address advising concerns and offered support of this work including help from committee consultants and looking into funding for professional development opportunities specific to major advising. Our discussions of advising have considered topics such as: How to implement diversity and inclusion guidelines/training for all advisors; what structures and policies would ensure equitable practices and accountability for advisors; an understanding of advising as teaching, and the need for advisors to receive professional development on relationship-building, knowledge of resources for student support, framing of conversations and a growth mindset. As one outgrowth of these conversations with faculty and the provost, the provost has committed to funding professional development in summer 2021 for a group of faculty across STEM in health fields to develop a model for major and career advising.
In the Spring semester, we will be soliciting input from departments on their ongoing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and we will invite faculty and staff to share suggestions and concerns regarding equity in Wofford’s academic program.
JEDI Working Group 1 Update: History, Memory, Place
This message is from Dr. Ramón Galiñanes Jr. (lead), director of undergraduate research and post-graduate fellowships; the Hon. Costa Pleicones ’65, retired chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court; and the Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson ’78, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion
During these past few weeks, the working group has been engaged in conducting listening sessions and reviewing Wofford’s campus landscape and history. Considering a petition to change the names of three residence halls named for presidents William M. Wightman, Albert M. Shipp and James H. Carlisle, all of whom owned enslaved people, is one of several important topics of discussion and debate. Our group is also considering the college’s cultural/historic symbols and the way we tell the story of our past in authentic ways. We are asking two primary questions: How do we, as a community, more thoughtfully engage and reckon with Wofford’s past, especially its ties to slavery? And, how do we, at the same time, re-imagine our changing campus landscape not only to reckon with this past but also highlight the stories of women, people of color and other historically unrepresented groups that have made Wofford what it is today?
These are complex questions that require serious deliberation as well as engagement with a variety of experts and different stakeholders. JEDI has convened several sessions to listen to students and alumni and will continue these sessions as well as others adding faculty, staff and community partners through the winter and into the spring.In addition, our working group has met separately with Dr. Phillip Stone ’94, Wofford’s archivist; Dr. Kim Rostan, associate professor of English, coordinator of the college’s intercultural studies major and co-coordinator of the African and African-American Studies Program; Robert Mickle ’85, leader in the Black Alumni Association; Vickie Muller ’83, leader in the Black Alumni Association; and Dr. Steve O’Neil, a professor at Furman University and the lead historian of the “Seeking Abraham Project.” We also have plans to talk with Janice Means ’73 and Gwendolyn Lawrence ’73, two of the college’s first African-American women graduates; Dr. Dwain Pruitt ’95, professor and an assistant dean at the University of Louisville, who did research as a student on college and Spartanburg history; and Wofford presidents emeritus Dr. Joe Lesesne and Dr. Bernie Dunlap.
All of these people and perspectives will help inform our research and recommendations as we prepare to present to the Wofford College Board of Trustees during the February and May 2021 meetings.
For more information about the Strategic Vision for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, visit Wofford.edu/strategicvision.