MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have created a new website that provides instructional resources and guidance for strengthening inclusion in the classroom and on campus.
The resources and guidance on the site address different aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The website covers topics from designing a syllabus to grading and assessments, as well as fostering belonging, creating inclusive content and more.
Laura Ramp, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, said the idea for the website grew out of the 2022 Summer Institute for Equity in the Academic Experience, which took place virtually and at numerous host sites, including Penn State Harrisburg.
During that event, a team of staff, administrators, academic advisers and course designers explored ways to create pathways for success for first-generation students and those from historically underserved and marginalized communities, according to Wanda Knight, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Recognizing that faculty play a critical role in student success, we decided to develop a repository of high-quality diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) materials and resources to support faculty in their self-education,” Knight said. “In doing so, I believe the readings, resources, and other materials on the website will catalyze self-imposed professional development and purposeful knowledge-building related to diversity, equity, inclusion, access, social justice, and belonging, among other areas.”
Ramp said the site not only provides a growth opportunity for faculty, but a chance to improve what’s happening in classrooms.
“I think the hope is that faculty will consider doing some self-reflection and look at their comfort level with these topics and identify areas of growth for themselves, because that directly impacts what occurs in the classroom,” Ramp said. “And then from there, find ways to continually engage our students, meet our students where they are and take ideas that will best help strengthen the learning environment.”
The site is formatted as a course, but users don’t have to follow it in order. Each topic stands on its own, so faculty can choose areas of interest.
Ramp said the website will be continuously updated. Faculty feedback and suggestions are invited.
“It’s never going to be a finished product, because these ideas continue to evolve and grow, and we want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our faculty as well,” Ramp said.
Holly Angelique, assistant dean for academic affairs, encouraged faculty to take advantage of the resources.
“Inclusive teaching is at the heart of student success as these practices provide students with the best learning environment for their unique needs, as well as multiple opportunities for them to reach their highest academic potential,” Angelique said. “Evidence shows that inclusive teaching has so many benefits for all students, including increased social interaction, greater access to the curriculum for all students, and fostering respect for others. It is one of many ways that we are working to create a welcoming environment for all students.”