Building a Responsive Transparency for Diversity and Equity in the College Classroom

Project Abstract

Higher education demographics point to increasingly diverse students. As institutions wrestle with meeting the differential needs of their student bodies, educators contend with curricular representation, approaching multicultural inclusion as one approach. Still, “[e]thnic studies departments [and gender studies for that matter] are . . . bearing the burden of having to teach everything about marginalized populations” (Bernard-Cerreno 113). Compounding the matter is relegation of a majority of marginalized group narratives to special topics courses to which interested students self-navigate, thus leaving a strong possibility that some students receive little or no critical exercise in learning about human variation.

Teaching college students about global citizenship and equity should not cut along college majors. Attached to the idea of multicultural inclusion is the role of politics in higher education. Yet Mitchell provides a key insight into this matter: “The issue most often explored is not whether politics belong in the classroom, but rather, what politics shape particular classrooms and curricula” (27).

Beyond the multicultural capsulization of diversity, faculty need to think broadly and clearly about diversity across multiple axes. Too often, however, faculty lack the vernacular appropriate for transparent pedagogies about and involving diversity. While attending to inclusion, equity, and multiculturalism, we must explore our own pedagogical commitments in this area, reflecting strongly on our purpose.

This presentation examines the theoretical and philosophical commitments educators bring with them to issues of diversity, specifically asking about the extent to which we display transparency with students and ourselves on the place and role of diversity in curricula, practice, policy, and classrooms. I grapple with how efforts to incorporate diversity and inclusive practices into higher education rely on practitioner theoretical approaches. Rather than extolling a list of strategies, I seek responsive transparency, pointing out that how we think about diversity impacts how it is experienced by students.


Conference name (full, no abbreviations): Pedagogicon 2019

Dates: May 16-17, 2019

Sponsoring body: Eastern Kentucky University’s Noel Studio for Academic Creativity

Conference website:

Funding Type

Travel Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts


English Pedagogy


Doctor of Arts (DA)




Dr. Sara Cooper

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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