Diversity in Practice Activities Handbook

This manual, which will be updated as we continue to develop new materials, provides downloadable PDFs of in-class exercises, lesson prompts, and conversation guides meant to help instructors in first-year GPS and other courses introduce students to concepts of diversity and inclusiveness.

Its creation is the result of the work of the Diversity in Practice Subcommittee (DiP), an arm of the Faculty Minority Affairs Committee. It was ushered into existence by a diverse group of faculty, members of administration, and UCCS student interns. Driving this effort was a belief that maintaining an inclusive and diverse campus is essential for the intellectual and developmental health of the university. By helping incoming students become comfortable engaging with these concepts, we can positively change the landscape of UCCS over time. If we are to create an inclusive campus where all students feel secure, we must work to ensure that our student body has the tools to engage in open and respectful dialogue about diversity.

In order to help students gain a facility with these complex and often sensitive issues, the exercises outlined here urge students to work from their own experiences toward a deeper intellectual and empathetic understanding of how difference (economic, cultural, religious, sexual, gender-based, racialized) plays a part in their own lives and the lives of those around them. Exercises focus on engaging students on both a physical and intellectual level and activities range from basic introduction games to more intense explorations of abstract concepts. Along with the detailed exercise prompts is a set of “conversation guideposts” that offer teachers a way to negotiate some of the more sensitive questions that might arise from this work.

This entire project is designed to provide tools useful for instructors in any and all disciplines. Whether questions regarding diversity are central to your syllabus or seem peripheral to your focus, involving your students in a discourse about community and identity will bring heightened meaning to your work and help connect your classwork to the university community and beyond. The idea is to set a standard for UCCS students that assumes a literacy in the importance of difference, one that will benefit every facet of university life.

DEFINITIONS

The following are the official definitions provided by UCCS.

  • Inclusiveness is the commitment to create an environment that supports, represents and embraces members of diverse social groups and diverse social identities.
  • Diversity of people and ideas represents, among other things, differences in ethnicity, races, age, class, sexual orientation, abilities, religious and spiritual values, political viewpoints, veteran status, and gender identity and expression.

These are far from the only terms that come up when we are having these important conversations. As a guide to navigating other terms that students, administrators, and faculty alike may feel uncomfortable or unprepared to use, we have compiled a lexicon of terms relevant to these discussions, with an introduction suggesting ways it might be useful as well as the limitations of any such lexicon. A link to this resource is included after the activities, below.

FOUNDATIONAL IDEALS

In undertaking the creation of this manual, we have worked to ensure that we avoid particular pitfalls. Foremost among them is that conversations on diversity, privilege, and difference can often reinforce the very inequalities that we are trying to address. As well-meaning as we may be, there is a danger of simply demonstrating the privilege of one group without offering possibilities to remedy such imbalances. We also sought to avoid situations that might call attention to a participant’s difference without the consent of that individual. Lastly, we have worked not to alienate any students, including those who may be identified as members of a dominant culture that might feel their own struggles are negated by their social and cultural positions of privilege. Exercises and discourse prompts have been carefully vetted to avoid these situations. Still, it is important that any instructor undertaking the work outlined here be aware of these hazards and consider how they might create an accommodating environment where all students will feel receptive to new ideas and empowered to participate.

ACTIVITIES

These activities were designed with the goal of introducing university students to the concepts of diversity and inclusiveness. Exercises help create appreciation, empathy, and acceptance of the attributes that make people different. They are designed to create an inclusive environment so that everyone has the opportunity to share their voice.  We stress that these activities are not made to single any one person out and that if anyone does not wish to share their thoughts or experiences for fear of being singled out or judged, they do not have to. We ask that you, as teachers, let your students know that the environment that they are in is a safe place, and the campus has resources available to them if they need help or assistance, no matter how small or insignificant their situation may seem. We hope that these activities are useful for you and help your students engage with one another.

Some of these exercises were developed entirely by the Diversity in Practice subcommittee, while others were culled from other sources. Each has been specifically vetted and most have been altered in order to ensure their effectiveness. Please give any feedback to FMAC.

Organization of activities

Activities are labeled on a zero to three system.

  • Level zero activities are activities for instructors to perform among themselves and/or with their GPS Peer Leaders.
  • Level one activities are simple activities that get students thinking about the topic of diversity. These activities help students get to know each other as icebreakers that revolve around the topic of diversity.
  • Level two activities require students to share more and can be more personal, and push students to interact more deeply and honestly with each other. They will also take up more class time.
  • Level three activities are very personal and ask students to be more self-reflective than the level one and level two activities. They will require more thought and time, and often ask students to discuss their own experiences in detail. Because of this, these activities might be best assigned as homework or done later in a semester when the class is more comfortable.

Level Zero (Instructor) Activities

Multi-level Activities (can be adapted for use from Levels One through Three)

Level One Activities 

Level Two Activities

Level Three Activities

Other resources

  • Lexicon

Diversity in Practice Team: Carlos Duarte, Jesse Perez, Kimbra Smith, Max Shulman, Stephen Suh

Student Interns 2017: Autumn Silvas, Caitlin Konchan, Cameron Dacuma, Samantha Knoll, Will Blocker

Student Interns 2017-present: Emerson Olson, Hailie Packard, Lindsey Dierenfield, Vincent Burke