Opportunities to Learn

In keeping with a decentralized approach to the implementation and realization of the goals in the DCC report, and in acknowledgment of the fact that this learning takes place in all areas of college life we need to build multiple opportunities for all to learn. Faculty, staff, and administration need opportunities to learn not only to provide better education to students, but also to develop their own work and careers, and their prospects for a more richly thoughtful life. We believe that Mount Holyoke's academic mission challenges us to see ourselves as taking the lead nationally in reversing forms of institutional inhospitability increasingly identified as part of a national trend among liberal arts colleges. We believe that all students will benefit from a thorough discussion, evaluation, and renewal of our vision of creating diverse communities of learning in which all students feel full and equal partners - and we know this takes the development of new skills and the acquisition of broadly informed learning.

Opportunities for Faculty

Goal: Create opportunities for faculty to learn more about current research on ethnicity, race and bias, to learn better how to engage issues of race in the classroom and in their advising, and to respond more sensitively and more constructively when issues of bias emerge in their teaching and advising. Help faculty learn how to become more effective mentors to students of color, first-generation students, and others.

The Dean of Faculty, Director of Academic Development and Director of the Science Center have worked to expand  existing faculty workshops, brown bags, and special keynote lectures, and provide access to ongoing research on the achievement gap so that faculty will have more opportunities to exchange ideas, think through challenges, and compare best practices.

See Workshops & Seminars for Faculty and Public Lectures, Symposia, and Panels.

Intergroup Dialog Project

Goal: Bring back Intergroup Dialog. Institute a cascading intergroup dialogue program that will teach students in the fall to lead intergroup dialogues; those students would then in teams lead additional intergroup dialogue sections in the spring. The APC and MCCL should use the 2010 Innovation Fund to encourage proposals for the development of a credit-course in intergroup dialogue that would satisfy the multicultural course requirement.

Intergroup Dialog Project is up and running but remains a non-credit course.

Point-of-Entry Training

Goal:  Employment point-of-entry at Mount Holyoke provides a significant opportunity for learning what it is to enter a community that not only tolerates and celebrates, but values diversity, thus the DCC recommended that diversity and inclusiveness learning opportunities for faculty and staff be routinely offered to newcomers.

Opportunities for Staff Learning

Goal: Ongoing opportunities for staff learning

(Spring 2005) Workshops on race and bias sponsored by the Dean of the College (for the Health and Counseling Services, the Dean of Students’ group, Residential Life, Student Programs, Religious Life, and the academic deans), the art museum, the vice-president for Enrollment and College Relations (for Student Financial Services, Institutional Research, the Communications’ office, the Registrar’s office, Admission and the FP office, and the CDC).

(2006) Workshops on race and bias were sponsored by the Human Resources department for various staff groups, including the Operational Policy Committee.

(February 2006) In "Not Until You Know My Story," performer Carrie Gibson (Amherst '80) presented  her one-woman show in which she appeared as fourteen diverse characters and followed the performance with a facilitated discussion on difference and inclusiveness. Staff and Faculty attended the two performances in large numbers.

Narratives of Achievement

Goal: Institute a series of talks on narratives of achievement to inspire students.

  • (2006-2007) Targeted for students of color, a series entitled “A Known Way, A Safe Passage” presented the lives and work of scholars and other professionals to illustrate and explore the values of achievement by providing students with personal narratives of accomplishment and excellence.
  • Kavita Khory, Associate Professor of Politics (February 13, 2006)
  • Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, Sr. Pastor of St. John's Congregational Church (December 6, 2006)
  • Joanne V. Creighton, President Mount Holyoke College (November 1, 2006)

Dialogs Across Difference

Goal: We believe that dialogue is both an end and a means for building practices of diversity on campus The College has historically conducted many such events, and recent attention to diversity has prompted even more - the DCC report recommended that we continue to highlight and develop dialogs across difference.

New Student Orientation

Goal: Improve orientation for all students to highlight and facilitate two great transitions into the academy. The first is from secondary school habits of thought to a rich, critical life of the mind. The second is from a framework of tolerance to a framework that embraces and values diversity – of race, of culture, of viewpoint – as a principal educational resource.

(Spring 2004) Dean of Students convened a cross campus steering committee to provide ongoing planning, evaluation, and development of the Pre-orientation and  the General Student Orientation programs. Among other improvements the Orientation Steering Committe holds as one of its mandates providing new students an opportunity to make connections between their academic experience, the value of diversity, and the importance of dialogue across difference. Special attention has been placed on finding ways to infuse the entire orientation program with key messages about engaging in and being a member of a diverse community.

(Fall 2004) Supported by the President's Innovation Fund, a new small group event entitled "Expanding Your Horizons" is introduced into the orientation program.  The program was a combination of music, theatre and poetry performances by Project 2050 and Kate Rigg designed to inspire insights and questions about identity and multiculturalism.  Following the performance small group leaders facilitated discussions about the rewards and challenges of membership in MHC's diverse community.  The program  continues to flourish and has become a core event that both returning and new students consistently praise.

(Spring 2007) Catherine Adams, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs and Donna Van Handle, Dean of International Students applied for and received an IIF Grant to sponsor a series of three discussions between Passages and ISOC student boards so that they could explore how the programs might work together more closely (co-sponsor events or perhaps even form ONE board) during Pre-Orientation.  Discussions have been valuable; Rene Davis, assumed the position of interim advisor to the Passages board; group decisions are due shortly.

(Spring 2007) Additional materials have been added to the information packets mailed to all admitted students that highlights the college mission with regards to an engaged diverse community of learners, and helps to better communicate the purpose and goals of the pre-orientation programs.