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Symposium Diversity & Inclusion: an open and honest discussion about inclusive teaching

A Diversity & Inclusion symposium for academic staff was held at the end of last month. The focus of the internal debate was 'Let's speak about Inclusive Curriculum and Teaching'. All aspects of these topics were emphasized, ideas were developed, and tips & tricks, sensitivities, and best practices were shared by a range of speakers through presentations and a panel discussion.

Dean Erwin Muller began with a video message after introductory remarks from moderator Siela Ardjosemito and organizer Susanne Deen (Coordinator Diversity & Inclusion). Dean Muller stated, 'one of the faculty's primary areas of interest is diversity and inclusive education and teaching. This is not to follow the crowd, but because we sincerely feel that a more inclusive faculty helps to the quality of instruction and research, as well as to the organization and support in our faculty.'

Talking about the different points of view

To hold an open and honest discussion on the various polarized points of view that exist. That was Muller's intention for this afternoon: to share the story of his personal experience in this, he added,  'I've realized what privileges a white man like myself has'  In addition, there are unconscious biases that play a role. Knowing and understanding this is critical. And I hope that via this symposium, we will be able to discuss all aspects of inclusive teaching with one another.'

Core curriculum as the basis of internationalisation

Jos Beelen, lecturer Global and Inclusive Learning at The Hague University of Applied Sciences discussed 'The Hidden Curriculum'; the search for inclusion.  His presentation was entitled 'IAH: Internationalisation at Homeā€™. A lector's purpose is to incorporate intercultural and international components into all of his or her courses, not only for the minority of students who travel abroad or take an English course. 'Start by flipping your thoughts. The core curriculum serves as the foundation for internationalization'. There are two key phrases here: targeted and for all pupils. It is insufficient to provide electives with an international component that are solely available to the cultural elite. It must be made available to all students.

Stories from the field

In a panel discussion, lecturers Ingrid Samset (LUC), Andrei Poama (Public Administration), Densua Mumford (LUC), Daan Weggemans (ISGA) and Eamon Aloyo (ISGA) discussed stories from the field. How do they approach previously mentioned topics, such as the Hidden Curriculum? How can you ensure that all students in your classroom feel welcome and heard? How can you educate without prejudice? How important are examples in your lessons? What actions can you take to create a more inclusive curriculum? These were some of the questions they emphasised. 
Following the break, vice-dean Koen Caminada remarked in a video on how, in his opinion, promoting awareness should be crucial not just during the symposium but also outside of it. 'Everyone suffers from unconscious prejudice. I believe that if everyone considers their own prejudice and honestly discusses it with one another, we can all make progress', he added. Caminada, like Muller, is pleased that the faculty is placing inclusive education on the agenda for this conference. He also discussed it in his recent blog on schooling.

Judi Mesman is giving her presentation

Being neutral is impossibleĀ 

 Judi Mesman (dean LUC and professor in the interdisciplinary study of societal concerns) provided further context on key factors needed to address fostering inclusiveness in academic institutions. 'What is the truth? 'It's tricky,' she chuckled. 'Like everything else we study as academics, you have so many diverse points of view. It is vital to recognize that there will be consequences to whatever decision you choose. That is not to say you should not take action, but if you do, be conscious of what you are not choosing.' According to Mesman, being neutral is therefore impossible. Being aware of this and making it obvious in your teaching, she added, is the first step toward creating an inclusive classroom. 

Become wiser together and learn from each other

Elena Bondarouk and Emily Wolf (both in Public Administration) provided practical advice for instructors who wanted to make their teaching more inclusive but do not know where to begin. They have created a ten-page paper with Inclusive Teaching Tips. 'We welcome everyone to share examples, ideas, and experiences with us on inclusive education, they articulated  'To grow smarter together and learn from one another', was their main message. Finally, ISGA tutors Aayushi Shah and Saskia Postema presented on how to teach academic skills such as how to recognize racism and intersectionality as a foundation for inclusive and critical thinking.
Susanne Deen was beaming from ear to ear thereafter. All of the tales and experiences she heard has made the Diversity & Inclusion coordinator 'proud and moved'. 'It was a fantastic symposium, and we can certainly take this further. I am firm of the view that a follow-up will come soon!'

Images: Victor Koppelmans

Text: Margriet van der Zee

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