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K-State Today

April 13, 2016

American ethnic studies faculty member presents at the American Educational Research Association

Submitted by Melisa Posey

Norma A. Valenzuela, visiting instructor in American ethnic studies, and colleagues from the University of New Mexico presented "Navigating Resistance to Antiracist and Anti-Oppressive Curriculum: A Case Study of a Diverse Public University in the Southwest" at the 2016 American Educational Research Association.

The presentation examined how scholar activists — interested in advancing social justice curriculum — can navigate resistance to institutional change. In 2014, the Provost's Diversity Council at a large public southwestern university instituted a three-credit diversity and inclusion course for undergraduate students as a graduation requirement.

The five co-authors of the paper, all women of color, were there at every stage of the process from 2010 to 2014, to learn the ways in which the words of Audre Lorde, writer and feminist, ring true when they witnessed the challenges of "utilizing the master's tools to dismantle the master's house." They saw how the institution morphs to maintain the status quo.

Specifically, the scholar activists describe strategies for "working the cracks." According to the scholars, counter-narratives and building communities committed to inclusive excellence, social justice pedagogy and praxis advance student success. This is done by including a preferred criteria in all faculty — and eventually staff — that values a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and student success. It is the hope of these women of color faculty that challenges presented in the narrative provides some direction for other institutions navigating resistance to diversity and inclusion curriculum.

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