Supporting Educators to Cultivate Conversations Surrounding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the Classroom

Supporting Educators to Cultivate Conversations Surrounding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the Classroom

Image of Stephanie Burrell Storms, EdD

Stephanie Burrell Storms, EdD

Stephanie Burrell Storms, EdD, shares how she collaborated with Fairfield faculty and staff on two recently published books that explore strategies for integrating EDI in the classroom.

With the growing movement for institutions of higher education to embrace diversity within its student populations, educators are in a unique position to support conversations surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the classroom. While many educators want to establish their classrooms as a supportive space for students to engage in conversations about EDI, they may struggle with how to do so.

To provide teachers with a framework to meet EDI-focused learning objectives, Stephanie Burrell Storms, EdD, associate dean and associate professor of multicultural education, collaborated with a group of Fairfield University faculty and staff on two recently published books that focus on four core objectives for teaching EDI: awareness, knowledge, skills, and action.

The origin of this project stemmed from a faculty resource seminar that Dr. Burrell Storms and Erica Hartwell, PhD, associate professor of Marriage and Family Therapy and director of the certificate in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health, attended at NYU in 2016. Participants were tasked with a concluding project and Drs. Burrell Storms and Hartwell decided to write about their commitment to EDI with four other educators who attended the seminar.

06-20_image_gseap-newsletter_edi-books.jpg The result was a paper outlining specific teaching strategies, classroom activities, and service learning assignments that can be adapted across disciplines. The paper was published by Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 2017, and co-authored with Kirsten Cole, Sarah K. Donovan, Ruth L. Greene, and Theodora Williams.

“I identify as a social justice educator, and my passion for social justice is what motivated me to write about EDI,” said Dr. Burrell Storms. Following the publication of the paper she submitted a book proposal to Rowman & Littlefield publishing company about writing further on topics surrounding EDI. The publishers felt the subject matter was so robust that Dr. Burrell Storms co-edited two books with Sarah K. Donovan and Theodora P. Williams: Breaking Down Silos for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) (2020) and Teaching Through Challenges for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) (2020).

Breaking Down Silos is about collaborating with different people across academic disciplines to promote EDI, while Teaching Through Challenges explores difficulties that educators may face when trying to promote and advance EDI in the classroom,” shared Dr. Burrell Storms. “Both books focus on strategic ways to promote EDI.”

A unique aspect of the books is that Dr. Burrell Storms engaged multiple Fairfield faculty and staff to share their experiences to meet EDI-focused learning objectives. In Breaking Down Silos for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Dr. Burrell Storms and Dr. Hartwell collaborated with four faculty from various disciplines to explore interdisciplinary EDI strategies both in the classroom and in community-engaged projects. Professor of English Betsy Bowen, PhD, shared how in her literacy and language course, she included archival research to provide students with a more inclusive and representative account of early African American literacy than excerpts from published narratives could provide.

To explore the partnerships between academic affairs and student affairs, and how these two groups can create successful student-learning environments that emphasize EDI, Dr. Burrell Storms collaborated with Ophelie Rowe-Allen, EdD, associate dean of assessment and director of residence life. Lastly, she collaborated with Ryan Colwell, PhD, assistant professor and director of elementary education, and Jessica Baldizon MA’15, a teacher at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, Conn., to explore how effective community engagement can promote EDI goals by focusing on relationship building; challenging preexisting ideas and beliefs; blending content and experiential learning opportunities; and engaging in assessment, reflection, and goal setting.

In Teaching Through Challenges for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Dr. Burrell Storms outlines how a collaboration between social justice education and educational technology engaged students in her social justice education course to create public service announcements promoting EDI using Adobe Spark. Jay Rozgonyi, associate vice provost for pedagogical innovation and effectiveness and teacher librarian with expertise in ed tech, Kathi Rainville, helped facilitate technology needs. Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, director of the school psychology program, contributed how educators and students in higher education can practice mindfulness to bring to light their own implicit biases. And Stephaney Morrison, PhD, assistant professor of counselor education, shared her expertise in person-centered teaching, its roots in social justice education and advocacy, and sample assignments and activities that illustrate this approach and promote EDI.

Both books can be found on Amazon and the e-book versions are available through the Fairfield University DiMenna-Nyselius Library.



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