I came home from a meeting yesterday afternoon which was supposed to be thinking about what our dean calls “blue ocean” ideas for improving the diversity of the population of students, staff and faculty in the College of Engineering. My group was supposed to be focusing on issues that impact women’s underrepresentation (or, as one might put it, men’s overrepresentation), considering women of all ethnicities and classes.
The thing is, we kept getting hung up on current realities. We can’t do this because the faculty won’t hear of it. We can’t do that because we can’t get the data from that entity. We can’t do the other thing because it costs too much. So we end up cutting off the brainstorming before we even get started thinking of blue ocean ideas.
If we start thinking about the future using the current conditions, of course we won’t be able to envision a different path! We can only see our current path.
So instead, let’s play “what if,” or its counterpart “Let’s pretend” that many of us were such adepts at playing as kids. Forget about how you get there, let’s imagine what could be, and then work out a way to get there.
Wanna play? More below the fold.
- faculty were expected to include in their job applications a statement about how their pedagogy and content supported the learning of marginalized populations? and that expectation extended into their jobs? and tenure decisions actually took that work into consideration?
- partnerships were set up between graduate students in education (or engineering education) acting as apprentice faculty and faculty who wanted to reform their curriculum, and the grad students got course credit for helping revise the curriculum, and the faculty member got service or teaching credit for mentoring that graduate student?
- there was a partner hiring office that found opportunities for employment for the partners and spouses of new faculty? and maybe some of those positions would be in staff positions of the university?
- we advertised staff positions further out of our community?
- the university supported a co-op grocery store and restaurant on campus that sold soul food, good Mexican food, daikon radishes and burdock roots, lemongrass, chois and misos galore?
- the university allowed students from HBCUs, HSIs, and tribal colleges to go on exchange or transfer to our university and that they would continue to pay the tuition of their home institution rather than out-of-state tuition?
- as soon as a faculty member or staff member found out she was pregnant (or shortly thereafter), a packet would appear out of thin air (or maybe from HR) that clearly outlined all the health benefits, leave benefits, and tenure-clock-related rights that they had?
- universities provided information about family benefits and cultural support as a matter of routine to faculty candidates?
- universities built in lactation rooms as a matter of course in their buildings, same as bathrooms? There would be a fridge, comfortable chair, window with a shade, sink, microwave… what else?
- faculty and staff (and other parents? grad students? undergrads?) were guaranteed space for their kids in on-site daycare?
- the university made sure there were hair salons nearby to campus who were skilled at managing the hair and hair styles of people of colour?
Okay, that should be enough to get the creativity juices going…. What else could we do? Think blue oceans!
(And if we start getting crabby about other commenters, I’ll start deleting comments.)