Leading DEI work on campus during a nationwide backlash

Last week we hosted University of Texas senior vice provost, dean, and professor Richard J. Reddick on the Future Trends Forum.  He’s the author of the recent book Restorative Resistance in Higher Education (Harvard Education Press).

We discussed how to do diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work on campuses, especially amidst backlash. Our conversation went so well that participants and I wanted to share it here, complete with excerpts from an active chat.

To begin with, you can find the whole recording here, or embedded below:

The chat was energetic.  Rather than slap the whole thing here, I’ve drawn out the key parts of the discussion, anonymizing chatters and organizing it thematically.  Passages in quotes are directly from the transcript or lightly edited:

On what can be done “Things we can do to make a difference in the shape our world is taking: Mentoring, Critical thinking, Critical assessment, Listening across assumptions and borders, Storytelling & creation.”

On the Wisconsin DEI struggle A major university system board switch.  And “The UW has caved in and made a deal with the legislature to take “the first step in what will be our continuing efforts to eliminate these cancerous DEI practices on UW campuses”. “And Oklahoma just banned DEI in all publics in the state.”

On “The Eyes of Texas” story Here’s the full report website.  “This reminds me of current conversations in which some communities say ‘apartheid in Gaza’ and other communities push back and say ‘that’s not what apartheid means, here let me educate you.’ How do we turn these into conversations instead of divisions? The discussion around the song seemed particularly effective at building that sense of collaboration.”  “Inquiry, conversation and reflectivity in academia!”  “I love that. ‘It’s okay to walk away without closure.’ As long as you’re listening and thinking beyond where you started”

On race and change in higher edI struggle to explain my position: growing up in LA I learned to appreciate many cultures as a child. A very different experience from most people I meet.” “I agree that change is often limited to individual people. However, when change occurs at an individual level, departments follow suit”.

I attended a really white college that offered full tuition, room & board to diversity applicants. It ended up at that time being a very divided community. I am white, and I didn’t stay, but one of my best friends there was Black, and it was made clear to them that they were not to have white friends. It’s complicated. There’s good reasons on both sides for why. It’s still tough.

Totally agree with that idea – industry partnerships, beyond that and/or related if that arguments is policy change like Promotion and Tenure”

More questionsI am curious about strategies for DEI organizational/institutional level change, from my research and experience successful change is often limited to programs/offices/individual people/groups.”

Wrapping up How to stay in touch with Dr. Reddick?  His podcast, Black Austin Matters, for one.  @thechroniclesofreddick on Instagram, for another.  And also on LinkedIn.   

A Forum program idea: “What Rich is saying reminds me of the Human Library. I’d love for a Human Library experience within this FF community. That would be so cool”

For those interested in thinking about the future of HE: “The 100 Year EdTech Project invites you to imagine the next 50 years of education at our 2024 Design Summit from February 28 – March 1, in Scottsdale, AZ.” 

Last silly note: I somehow managed to utter the phrase “behind the beard” and now that might become a t-shirt or a podcast title.

Question for readers: is this kind of thing useful, a combination of embedded video recording with chat transcript excerpts?


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One Response to Leading DEI work on campus during a nationwide backlash

  1. Mark Corbett Wilson says:

    Hi Bryan
    I love this format and think it is great way to capture a FTF session, especially for those that missed it.
    Thanks for promoting “The 100 Year EdTech Project.”

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