Pillar 2: Cultural Consciousness

Our students arrive on campus with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, and beliefs – from all 50 states and 82 countries – that inform their perspectives on issues of race. As society evolves, as our education evolves, we must all commit to lifelong learning on this subject, updating our awareness, knowledge, and skills to enrich and renew our intercultural competence. Our graduates are entering a global and diverse workplace. This is an organic evolution, not a race with a finish line. As an educational institution, we believe everyone is capable of growth and change. Our responsibility is to provide opportunities for everyone – students, faculty, and staff – to continue their learning.

The task force should examine our efforts to date to ensure that everyone in our community advances their cultural competency over time. It should provide recommendations about areas for improvement. Some examples include a re-examination of the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Global Miami Plan to focus it more on issues of domestic diversity, equity, and inclusion. We should conduct a re-examination of Miami’s history to ensure the information we present includes the experiences of diverse students, especially the Black student experience at Miami and in Oxford.

Recommendation 1: Global Miami Plan revision on Intercultural Perspectives.

That members of the President’s DEI Task Force subcommittee on cultural consciousness work closely with the Liberal Education Committee during the spring semester of 2021 in order to reconceptualize the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Global Miami Plan and include criteria such as:

  • A clear definition of cultural consciousness that can be clearly articulated and shared across programs and experiences.

  • A requirement that undergraduate students complete a "series of experiences" that fall under the designation of cultural consciousness over a period of multiple semesters while at Miami University. Such experiences might include, but are not limited to:

    • Coursework taken from a reviewed set of courses designed specifically toward fostering an anti-racist, diverse, and socially just climate at Miami University.

    • Attendance of pre-approved speakers and events dealing with issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion on any of Miami’s campuses.

    • Completion of training and/or professional development seminars or workshops on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

    • Participation or reflection in Dialogues modeling difficult uncomfortable conversations (perhaps created in a series of podcasts).

    • Community service, experiential learning, or participation in agencies or organizations dedicated to social justice and equity.

  • The introduction of key Intercultural Perspectives concepts and content introduced in UNV 101, to be followed-up and further developed in a newly created UNV 201 (with additional consideration of the creation of a UNV 401 as part of a culminating GMP project).

Rationale:

Miami University currently has an expectation and implementation structure in place for the promoting of cultural consciousness in the Global Miami Plan (GMP). The GMP is also in the middle of a major revision, headed up by a sub-committee of the Liberal Education Committee, chaired by Shelly Jarrett Bromberg. This recommendation seeks to take advantage of this structure and initiative to expand and refocus the Intercultural Perspectives (IP) requirement of the GMP, so that it incorporates many of the key concepts embedded in the Cultural Consciousness Pillar of the DEI Presidential Task Force. As part of this restructuring, this recommendation further suggests that the IP requirement be fulfilled over a period of multiple semesters (3-6), rather than a one-time experience (i.e., completion of a course). Some examples of how this could be done are included in the recommendation, but such details would be left to the discretion of the Liberal Education Committee. The above recommendation implies that a representative from the cultural consciousness subcommittee will temporarily serve on the Liberal Education Committee sub-committee charged with the GMP revision.

Recommendation 1 Details

Accountable Party:

Liberal Education Committee and University DEI Implementation Committee

Timeline:

Beginning of the spring semester of 2021.

Recommendation 2: Academic Affairs - Permanent Faculty specializing in subjects critical to DEI initiatives.

Rationale:

In order to properly educate our students on DEI initiatives and subjects, we must support the faculty who regularly teach these courses. It has been perceived by this committee that many faculty who teach these courses are the most vulnerable to economic changes (budget cuts) such as adjunct or visiting faculty. These should be protected positions, i.e. tenure-track positions, that would allow faculty in those positions to teach and develop their pedagogy to improve DEI education. This use of permanent faculty should be reflected across all courses in the Global Miami Plan.

In addition, those faculty who would teach courses in the area of intercultural perspectives within the Miami Plan must have at a minimum a terminal degree either specifically ethnic studies, critical race, or those with a concentration in cross-cultural studies within a specific field of study (such as LGBTQ+ studies, disability studies, history, sociology, business practices, etc.) as certified within the various disciplines. A substantive research publication record in these areas can also be used to certify competencies. The goal of this requirement is to ensure that the faculty teaching intercultural perspectives are indeed competent to do so.

Recommendation 2 Details

Accountable Party:

Academic Personnel/Academic Affairs

Consequences:

Additional full-time faculty in these positions with appropriate credentials, signal to the Miami community that we are investing our faculty resources to align with the commitment to DEI education.

Regarding the teaching assessment of these faculty, it should be noted that studies across the country show that students in these classes tend to give lower evaluation scores because of this challenging material. We also must recognize the long history of penalizing faculty from diverse groups (people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, faculty with disabilities), particularly those who teach these courses, at predominantly white institutions (PWI). We therefore should devise a quality measure that recognizes the increased likelihood of negative student evaluations in such courses.

Timeline:

1 year

Assessment Mechanism:

Review of faculty composition within each college and department should be compared across campus by Academic Affairs. Departments with DEI efforts should be assisted to hire long-term positions, filled by faculty with the proper credentials. The Advancement Office could be used to help raise money to set up endowed chairs focused on DEI efforts.

Recommendation 3: Cultural Consciousness Assessment.

It is recommended that Miami University implements a university-wide comprehensive assessment tool used to determine growth in cultural consciousness over time. This assessment tool would have a pre-test administered during an undergraduate’s first year (such as in UNV101 or a similar required course), with a follow-up post-test administered during a student’s final academic year (such as within a capstone course, a culminating project, or a newly created UNV401 class). The President’s DEI Task Force would work with Liberal Education and the Global Initiatives Office to determine the most effective and cost-efficient cross-cultural assessment tool that would align with the principles and attributes associated with the cultural consciousness pillar and the Intercultural Perspectives requirement of the Global Miami Plan. Three models widely in use for this purpose are the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale, the Go Culture International DEI/Global Citizenship, and the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Assessment), though others could certainly be considered. This recommendation would also allow for each college or school at Miami to administer whichever assessment tool best fits the goals of that particular school or college, with the understanding that all data would be shared at a common university level. It is furthermore recommended that the approved pre and post-test assessment on cultural consciousness be administered to all graduate students at the beginning and conclusion of their programs.

Rationale:

In order to determine the effectiveness of Miami University’s efforts to improve the cultural consciousness of the undergraduate student body, some type of valid and reliable assessment instrument is needed. Furthermore, to more accurately assess any growth in this area, participants would need to engage in multiple activities over a period of time (see recommendation #1). A cross-cultural assessment tool that provided a pre-test near the beginning of a student’s experience and a post-test toward the end of the students’ experience would collect valuable data. Fortunately, there are a number of instruments available that have been widely used, not only internationally and nationally, but also at Miami University. The Global Initiatives Office and the Farmer School of Business have knowledge and experience with at least three of these instruments.

Recommendation 3 Details

Accountable Party:

Liberal Education Committee, Global Initiatives Office, and University DEI Implementation Committee, Graduate School

Timeline:

This recommendation asks that a cost/benefit analysis be done during the 2020-2021 academic year to determine which instrument would best serve the general Miami University student population while allowing for individual colleges and schools at Miami to use a discrete model, if desired. This assessment tool would then begin to be administered with the incoming fall, 2021 academic class.

Recommendation 4: Cultural Consciousness Training/Professional Development.

It is recommended that Miami University requires all university employees to engage in ongoing cultural consciousness learning experiences for professional development. The content, structure, and implementation of these experiences may vary based on job role (classified staff, unclassified staff, faculty, and administration) but should be tracked and reported on as part of each role’s annual review process. In order to hold all employees accountable to Miami’s rules, expectations, and values, this initiative should include specific measures to help ensure participation at all levels including, but not limited to, incentives such as Job Enrichment points, salary increases, and stipend opportunities.

  • Faculty

    • Diversity training/professional development/engagement should be required of all faculty on an ongoing basis, and that the accounting process for this training be incorporated into every faculty member’s annual report for merit consideration. This could be a separate category (as collegiality currently is), be embedded in Service, or be a category in which one of the departmental merit ratings be shifted. The details of this structure may be determined by each School or College, but each plan should be approved by the President’s DEI Implementation committee.

  • Unclassified and Classified Staff

    • The university should expand its current Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Certificate (CQ) Program so that all classified and unclassified staff may participate in and earn the certificate. For staff members who have already earned the certificate, supplemental programming should be developed to keep their certification up to date (see more below). The program should be tied into the Job Enrichment Program that is currently available for classified staff. Alternatively, it can be structured similarly to the existing Lean Certification Program which awards personnel - classified or unclassified - with bonuses and/or stipends as each tier of learning/training requirements is achieved.

  • Graduate Assistants

    • All graduate students holding a graduate teaching or research assistantship should be required to report on all DEI related training/professional development/engagement at the end of each year of their appointment to their immediate supervisor.

  • Administrators

    • All administrators should be engaged in this work on an ongoing basis, and a public disclosure of each individual administrator’s engagement should be made available on an annual basis.

Rationale:

There is a need to increase Miami University employees’ ability to engage and work effectively with students, colleagues, and community members from diverse backgrounds, and to acquire the skills needed to perform responsively in modern, global contexts. The CQ program, for example, aims to foster a culturally conscious and active mindset among employees in their daily work, and to help them meet the nuances of our increasingly diverse landscape. The current CQ program curriculum spans over the course of an academic year, and a certificate is earned at its conclusion. To ensure continuous learning, the expansion of the program should feature a certification renewal process, in which employees must complete post-certificate activities and collaborative experiences in order to keep their certificate active. These renewal learning experiences will build upon the CQ program’s core workshop topics.

Recommendation 4 Details

Accountable Party:

The Office for Institutional Diversity & Inclusion and University DEI Implementation Committee

  • Collaborative Partners: Human Resources, Academic Personnel, the Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity, the Council on Diversity & Inclusion, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Dept of Educational Psychology’s Disability Studies Program, and the Department of Global & Intercultural Studies

Timeline:

1.5 years

Recommendation 5: International Student Integration and Support.

That Office of Residence Life (Student Life) either creates a new Pillar of Success or makes international-student focused programming a core aspect of the current Diverse & Inclusive Environment pillar. Furthermore, peer and faculty-based mentoring for international students be instituted to help better navigate academic stress, financial difficulties, and lack of social support. When possible, recruit students and faculty who do not have US citizenship for this mentoring will help incoming students connect better. Finally, Student Life conducts regular semester/annual meetings with international students to follow-up on the mentoring process, so that Student Life may continue to maintain connections with fellow international students once their orientation is over.

Additionally, the sub-committee recommends that there be better advertising and marketing of the Intercultural Processes Therapy Group conducted at the Student Counseling Services yearly. This group seeks participation from international and domestic students, providing them with a platform to discuss cultural similarities and differences, as well as discuss general coping strategies, particularly in response to racism and microaggressions.

Rationale:

Residence life has the power and opportunity to engage students in conversations with other students who share different backgrounds from them. Being intentional about including international student experiences in all-hall programming events can help create more dialogue between domestic and international students. Finally, maintaining a relationship with international students after orientation and providing them with mentoring and support can help in keeping them engaged in the Miami community and be better prepared to succeed in their new environment.

Recommendation 5 Details

Accountable Party:

Residence Hall Programming (Student Life), DEI Implementation Committee, International Students and Scholar Services (ISSS), Office of Global Initiatives

Timeline:

1 year