This month I attended the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Conference here in Philadelphia. This two-day event included an academic think tank, designed directly for dean, directors, faculty, and Diversity and Inclusion practitioners. The think tank was subdivided into groups, each tasked with discussing a particular issue. I attended the session titled “Discover how to design educational programs through implementing diversity and inclusion content and case studies throughout curricula.”
What I found interesting was an emphasis on helping minority and first generation college students master “soft skills.” For example, we watched a video interview of a young black mechanical engineer recounting his struggles in college. Certainly there was the problem created by a lack of black faculty mentors and students of color in the program. But surprisingly, at least to me, it was not poor preparation in science and math that caused additional hardship, but the work required to master the different language of a professional engineer, and the need to develop communication and debating skills. I was heartened, because communication and debating skill are something we encourage in the Temple Gen Ed program courses.
I also had some great conversations with young, black, tech. entrepreneurs working in the Philadelphia area. Every break and meal provided opportunities for insightful conversation. Overall, the conference provide me with a chance to reflect on ways to increase diversity and inclusion in Gen Ed.
I have to give a shout out to Deborah Blair, one of Temple’s Gen Ed area coordinators who helped organize the conference and to all the student volunteers from Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality who kept everything running smoothly!