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Diversity Initiatives in the School of Education

As a result of the work of several task forces exploring diversity in the School of Education over the past several years, the following definition of diversity emerged:

Diversity refers to differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area. 1
Although far from being an exhaustive list of the social and cultural differences that exist among us as students, staff, and faculty, this definition serves to remind us that we all bring personal differences to our interactions with each other. In the School of Education, we are each called on to use those personal differences to make a positive change in the world: in classrooms, community health centers, industries, gyms and sports centers, and more.

Whether we are teaching graduate or undergraduate students, planning for and teaching in P-12 classrooms, assisting clients in our varied clinics and practicum sites, or assisting potential and current students with their questions and needs, our goal is to help " foster an harmonious student-centered campus characterized by integrity, cooperation, open dialogue and mutual respect among individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives." 2

The School's dedication to this goal is shown through the various initiatives that our faculty and students are involved in. Project PRIME, Grow Your Own Teachers, and Illinois Golden Apple all attempt to increase the number of minority teacher candidates and provide highly qualified teachers in hard-to-staff school districts. The Diversity Education Project and Addressing Learning about Sexual Orientation (ALSO) are faculty initiatives that provide diversity workshops and other educational opportunities for faculty, students, and community members.

Recently, the School created the Office of Diversity and Faculty Development to monitor and coordinate efforts to increase diversity within the School. The Director and the School's Diversity Committee developed an Action Plan to guide the School's work in recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse faculty and student body. The Director also works with the University-wide Diversity Council to help coordinate diversity initiative across the campus.

Multicultural educator Gary Howard has said, "Diversity is not a choice, but our responses to it certainly are. And to date, all indications point to the fact that our responses have not been adequate to deal with the full range of issues presented by the complexities of teaching in a multicultural nation." 3 The School of Education, SIUE, is dedicated to insuring that our response to diversity truly celebrates the contribution of ALL people, and that the learning, teaching, scholarship, and service that we engage in supports a thriving environment in which no one has to worry that they won't be accepted or included.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Bill Searcy, Director
Office of Diversity and Faculty Development
School of Education

1 Final report of the Multiculturalism Across the Curriculum Task Force, February, 2004
2 Achieving the Vision: Long Term Goals.
3 Howard, G.R. (1999) We Can't Teach What We Don't Know. NY: Teacher's College Press, p. 2.