Read, Watch, Listen, Act, Teach

Kay Halasek

Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. David McAtee. Rayshard Brooks. #SayTheirNames.

Every morning, I begin my day with a scan of news on the BBC and NPR—even in (and perhaps now because of) these days of systemic and institutionally sanctioned violence against people of color and the global uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. One morning several days back, I happened upon an online posting of NPR’s Code Switch podcast, “A Decade of Watching Black People Die,”  which included a powerful image of a “non-comprehensive list of deaths at the hands of police in the U.S. since Eric Garner's death in July 2014” credited to LA Johnson, an art director and illustrator at NPR. (If you click on the link above, you’ll be directed to the website and the image, an orange background with the names of 100 individuals in black, all caps.)

It is simply not possible for me to compose and post a director’s message from the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning without first naming and acknowledging those who have been the victims of police violence. But I also am compelled to acknowledge that while these acts of brutality are committed by individuals, those acts are also condoned by a culture that systemically and systematically marginalizes people of color.

With this message, I recommit the Drake Institute to exceeding itself, to going beyond focusing on diversity and inclusion to answer the call issued by Benjamin D. Reese, Courtney N. Wright, and others to condemn and address systemic racism through, as Wright calls for, “sincere self-reflection and strategic action.” The institute is called upon to step up, speak out against, and move to eradicate systemic and institutional racism.

Read, watch, listen, act, teach. This series of actions articulate the values of the institute and its own commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

The Drake Institute is committed to re-examining, assessing and deepening (and here we call on the words of Benjamin D. Reese) our “efforts in light of vanquishing systemic racism, including appropriate transformation of diversity/equity/inclusion/racism education.” To that end, the Drake Institute commits itself to the following actions in fulfilling its responsibility to the values that inform diversity, equity and inclusion.

We in the Drake Institute pledge our collective commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and addressing systemic and institutional racism through the following strategic actions in the coming year:

  • Conduct and publicly report the results of a strategic audit of all institute offerings to determine current state and scope of diversity, equity and inclusion in those offerings
  • In response to a request from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, create a Drake Institute Inclusive Excellence Plan that includes a revised mission and vision statement and statements of specific, actionable goals for furthering inclusive excellence within the institute and through the institute to support inclusive excellence at the university
  • Integrate, deepen and assess the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion content (e.g., Winkelmes’ Transparency in Learning and Teaching Framework) into all institute professional learning resources and materials, including but not limited to Graduate Teaching Orientation, New Faculty Orientation, the GTA Toolkit, Teaching@OhioState and the FIT Mentoring program
  • Create an ongoing Inclusive Teaching Community of Practice to serve as a pathway for Instructional Redesign and through which instructors contribute to a dynamic archive of evidence-based practices and shared resources to be housed in the Teaching and Learning Resource Center
  • Launch an Inclusive Excellence in Teaching Fellows program recognizing those instructors whose work in inclusive teaching realizes notable impact on students
  • Redouble efforts by enriching offerings through the Inclusive Teaching Endorsement
  • Deepen partnerships with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, identifying and enacting additional sustained and strategic institute activities in service of diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Deploy Institute Affiliates and Alliance members and the Teaching and Learning Collaborative as critical partners and diversity, equity and inclusion change agents at the college, department and program level
  • Elevate and publicize to the whole of the Ohio State community university-wide diversity, equity and inclusion activities and resources, such as Focus on Racial JusticeRacial Justice Resources, the Anti-Hate Resources & Action Network and its curated list of anti-hate books and articles
  • Extend the reach of diversity, equity and inclusion programming to the Ohio Professional Development Consortium
  • Support the work our colleagues engaging in SoTL and DBER research that examines the impacts of pedagogical practice on students from underrepresented backgrounds—like the work of Julie P. Martin and Chavone Garza
  • Launch a pilot study in a set of “critical” courses that incorporate elements of Winkelmes' Transparent Assignment Design Template and the University Libraries’ Meaningful Inquiry endorsement to examine the impact of evidence-based inclusive instructional strategies to promote student learning among and retention of underserved students
  • Enlist and support a cohort of faculty to participate in a study employing the protocols of Carrell and Kurlaender (2020), which demonstrated that “several strategically-timed e-mails to students from the professor indicating keys to success in the class, the students’ current standing in the course, and a reminder of when the professor is available” realized a positive impact on student performance, especially among first year students from underrepresented minority groups.

These strategic actions are intended to move the institute toward a single overarching goal: All teachers at Ohio State value diversity and enact inclusive teaching practices. We advocate for a series of actions: read, watch, listen, act, teach.

My best,
Kay Halasek
Director