Diversity Work: Testing the Waters of Academic Freedom and the Cultural Climate on Campus

By Kevicha Echols and Juan Morales-Flores

Abstract:

In this article, the authors describe the process and lessons learned from conducting diversity work in academia. They define diversity work as the commitment to develop programs, workshops, and opportunities to discuss the experiences, issues, and concerns of the intersectional identities, group affiliations, and ideas that exist within academia. In doing diversity work the authors came to understand the importance of a support network for faculty from underrepresented groups, as well as the implications of diversity work for academic freedom. The support network grew from group discussions to hosting a four-day diversity symposium on campus in which faculty, students, and staff spoke together about these issues. While some conversations were intense and challenging, they were relevant and necessary to promoting academic freedom and a campus culture in which the appreciation of diversity issues could be addressed and celebrated. Although at present the cultural climate seems to be more open to dialogue about diversity on campus and how we can protect both students and faculty, challenges remain.

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