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Two dozen Ohio Wesleyan U. faculty become leaders for new equity and anti-racism initiative

Ohio Wesleyan University recently announced that 25 of its faculty became the school’s first class of “Equity Fellows.”

According to a press release, these academics at the small, private (and pricey) institution will “embark on a collaborative initiative aimed at fostering equity and anti-racism” at OWU.

The Equity Fellows program was designed by Beloit College’s Lisa Anderson-Levy and Catherine Orr, and is modeled after the “innovative” Decolonizing Pedagogies Project. The project’s initiatives “promot[e] activities and pedagogies that transform the curriculum, teaching, operations, and culture of an historically white college.”

Throughout the semester, Ohio Wesleyan’s Equity Fellows will meet biweekly to discuss readings, write reflections on pedagogy and process, and work to make our teaching and learning spaces more inclusive and equitable. Sessions will focus on various aspects of organizational practice and will require faculty to reflect on their identities as scholars and teachers. Faculty will consider how classroom, departmental, and institutional practices directly impact issues of inclusivity and equity in students’ personal and academic lives.

Participation in the Equity Fellows program will allow faculty to take a fresh look at how they approach their classes and make changes with an articulated focus on increasing equity. Faculty from the humanities and natural and social sciences will come together to learn with and from each other to better serve all of our students.

The Decolonizing Pedagogies curriculum contains ten separate sections ranging from “Disability and Ableism” and “Gender and Sexuality” to “Intersectionality.” Under the “Free Speech” section, the authors assert speech “will never be truly ‘free’ until all people are free and equal members of society.” They also contend members of the so-called “alt-right” and other hate groups “have found that they can gain a foothold for their ideas” by claiming free speech rights.

Anderson-Levy, an anthropology and Critical Identity Studies professor, says that “the histories of identities matter in contemporary contexts, and how they both benefit from and are harmed by structural relationships of power.”

Orr is a professor and chair of Critical Identity Studies. Her articles have been published in Feminist Studies and Women’s Studies Quarterly, and she is a facilitator for the Witnessing Whiteness program.

Read the press release.

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