With the support of a Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) grant, Building Inclusive Academic Communities (BIAC) was launched in 2021 to bring together faculty and students to engage in what bell hooks calls “education as the practice of freedom” and develop practices of anti-racist, inclusive pedagogy – critically, experientially, and in applied format.
Uniquely, this program brings together students and faculty for discussion, exploration, and mentorship in a five-person mentoring pod structure that includes a senior and a junior faculty member, a graduate student, and two undergraduate students. Through a carefully designed set of readings and discussions, each pod develops awareness and community around their own identities and positionalities and explores how best to make college classrooms inclusive spaces where students of all identities and backgrounds can participate fully in the learning process.
BIAC addresses such interrelated questions as: How can graduate and undergraduate students and senior and junior faculty mentor one another in areas of teaching and learning? How do we support all students’ engagement with subject material? How do we situate teaching learning within faculty and students’ own contexts while exploring those contexts? With the goal of enhancing students’ ability to take control of their learning, how do we recognize them, ensure their voices are heard, draw relevant connections to their lives, and respond to their concerns?
With donor support, we look forward to starting our third year of the program. Together, faculty and student fellows will continue to practice a mixture of intrapersonal and interpersonal teacher/learner awareness; cultivate their knowledge of inclusive practices; and adopt and implement student-centered pedagogies. We will also continue to develop our collaboration with Indiana University’s Kovener Teaching Fellows Program, after which BIAC is modeled.