Related Links: Enhancing Diversity Seminar Series | Critical Dialogues in Higher Education

Learn More: Past Enhancing Diversity Seminar Speakers

Spring 2018 Enhancing Diversity Seminar Series

The Office for Diversity announces a series of six sessions featuring Texas A&M faculty, staff, and students presenting their research to the community. Four of the sessions were presented at the 2017 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) and two sessions are from the 2016-2017 Diversity Matters SEED Grant Program recipients. These research projects are related to ongoing campus efforts of our University Diversity Plan goals of accountability, climate, and equity. Registration for the sessions is currently open. Please use the links provided below to register. This is a brown bag series, so bring your lunch. Refreshments will be provided. When registering, please inform us of any necessary accommodations. All sessions will be livestreamed

 March 28, 2018 – Rudder 410, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

Living and Learning: A Qualitative Study of International Students of African Descents Experiences in the United States

  • Sarah M Ray, EAHR PhD Student, Adult Education, Graduate Student
  • Dr. Mary Alfred, Professor, Educational Administration and Human Resource Development
  • Dr. Lisako McKyer, Associate Dean for Climate & Diversity, Associate Professor School of Public Health
The worldviews and identities for international students of African descent are different from domestic students, yet because they are Black, they are often seen as African American with their African identity being rendered invisible. This qualitative study investigates the experiences of international students of African descent, as racial and ethnic minorities attending a predominantly White institution in the US through  sociocultural learning and critical race theoretical lenses. The experiences of international students of African descent, as they learn to navigate in a new social and cultural environment, is compounded by the identification of racialization in the US. From an examination of the findings, the salient themes that emerged from the data include a clear differentiation between being African and being African American, identification of racialized incidents and the prevalence of certain views and values learned from family and media depictions.

 March 29, 2018 – Rudder 410, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

Presentation 1: The Power of Social Climate Change: Studies of Chronic Ostracism Experiences in the TAMU Academic Community

  • Adrienne Carter-Sowell, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences 
The objective of this research is to extend results from a longitudinal study conducted at Texas A&M University, in which faculty of color, compared to their majority faculty peers, indicate more experiences of isolation and less feelings of fit in their home departments or programs. This project contributed information about retention of faculty of color and social inequities in the workplace.

Presentation 2: Assessment of Gender Bias in the Recipients of Critical Questions at a Flagship Academic Conference
  • Jeff Winking, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Allison Hopkins, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Michelle Yeoman, Department of Anthropology, Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences
  • Cory Arcak, Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture

A substantial body of research has revealed the challenges that women disproportionately experience as they advance through their academic careers. One area of focus that has recently been brought to light is women’s experiences at academic conferences, events which often play important roles in career development. Conferences are also one of the few venues in which academics are able to interact face-to-face, introducing the possibility for a new form of gender discrimination—that relating to biases in speech patterns, particularly with regards to assertive and critical speech. As conferences are attended by professional colleagues and influential players in specific fields, the professional consequences of any gender bias in criticism are likely to be amplified at such venues. In this project we assess the relationship between critical questions asked to presenters and the gender of both audience members and presenters during 45 sessions at the 2014, 2015, 2016 American Anthropological Association Meetings. The findings suggest that men were slightly more likely to ask questions, both when examining all types of questions and when examining only critical questions. However, we did not find evidence that men were more likely to pose critical questions to women than to men. We discuss possible interpretations and limitations as well as avenues for future research.

 April 3, 2018 – MSC 2404, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

Empowering Responses: A Multi-Layered Approach to Incidents of Campus Racism

  • Carol Binzer, PhD, Director of Administrative & Support Services, Department of Residence Life
  • CJ Woods, PhD, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs Texas A&M University
This session will examine multiple acts of bias at an institution of higher education. Various responses to these acts galvanized student leaders, faculty, and campus administrators to re-affirm the institution's commitment to diversity and inclusion. With widespread reaction/attention (spotlight), the university mapped out practical steps to right these injustices. Immediate concerns ranged from ensuring the safety and security of all members and visitors of the campus community to addressing acts of free speech, while validating their impact on others and the institution's reputation. This interactive session will include firsthand commentary from front-line responders; personal reflection from student leaders who inspired a larger student response; and administrators who reached out to those impacted most directly engaging them with a more positive experience of the university. It should benefit student leaders, faculty, and campus administrators responsible for (or committed to) managing (combating) incidents of bias on their campus.

 April 11, 2018 – Rudder 410, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

Presentation 1: “[I Learned] Not to Drop the Fight and I’m Not Alone”: Assessing the Effectiveness of Facilitated Difficult Dialogues on Campus Race Relations 

  • Srividya Ramasubramanian, Associate Professor, Department of Communication
  • Alexandra N. Sousa, Ph.D. student, Department of Communication
  • Vanessa Gonlin, Ph.D. student, Department of Sociology
Incidents of bigotry in the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, antisemitism, among other social justice concerns, are moments that highlight the systemic nature of bigotry that still exists within higher education. In 2016, the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University responded to a racist incident on campus by setting up a series of “Difficult Dialogue on Campus Race Relations” sessions that gave participants the opportunity to reflect on and respond to campus racism. This project examines how situational factors, participants’ racial identity, and critical design elements (such as small group settings, localized case studies, role-play, and ground rules) shape the effectiveness of such dialogues. We share findings from a qualitative thematic analysis of participants’ written feedback (N=258) from eight dialogue sessions conducted in 2016-2017 about their perceived impact, overall satisfaction, and the main learnings from these sessions. 

Presentation 2: Managing Embodied Intersectional Identities in Organizations: The Role of Mentoring for Female Faculty of Color in Academia

  • Alexandra Sousa, Doctoral Student, Department of Communication
Mentoring is an accepted and beneficial practice within organizations and is linked to increased job satisfaction and career mobility for mentees. Scholars have also explored the relationship between mentoring and identity, including race and gender, but in limited ways. What existing research misses is how mentees’ embodied intersectional identities add complexity to the assessment of organizational mentoring practices. Faculty mentoring for women of color provides an interesting case study to explore this topic because of the characteristic lack of inclusivity within higher education institutions and the potential benefits that faculty mentoring can provide. Therefore, this study sought to explore the specific mentoring needs of female faculty of color at Texas A&M, how mentoring can be improved, and how these faculty members manage their embodied identities when mentoring does not provide the proper support. The findings indicate that women of color do experience unique challenges within academia and confirm the salience of intersectionality. However, formal mentoring support is lacking for many and as a result, female faculty of color develop their own identity management strategies to compensate.

 April 12, 2018 - Rudder 410, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

A Click Away:  Working to Improve Diversity and Inclusion Communications at the Health Science Center 

  • Christine L. Kaunas, MPH - Executive Director, Interprofessional Education & Research Health Science Center
An institution of higher education’s website is its “virtual face” to the world. Language, images, and design can convey a multitude of messages, both explicit and implicit, about the values of the institution and the people that belong there.  Further, what is seen or stated is just as important as what is not visible or goes unsaid.  When it comes to diversity and inclusion, what is communicated is particularly critical given efforts to support all student, staff, and faculty groups as well as attract those outside the institution.  However, efforts to communicate values of diversity and inclusion often fall short.  How, then, do we align our stated values with our online presence?  Come join the conversation and hear lessons learned about how one initiative gathered website data to improve its “virtual face” for greater inclusion.

 April 19, 2018 – MSC 2404, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm  | REGISTER HERE!

Challenging Whiteness in Student Affairs Professionals 

  • Dustin Grabsch, Manager, Residence Life 
  • Carlos Pinkerton, MEd, Community Director, Residence Life 
Race continues to be a challenge for the higher education community. Student services and student affairs professionals need to bring a more critical lens to how they socialize themselves and student with whom they interact. Through case studies, the presenters will explore white fragility, socialization, racial alibiing, and discuss the new ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Area of social justice.