Learning Community Book Groups

Learning Communities are based on carefully chosen books to foster constructive conversations around the topics of inclusion, bias, race, empathy, understanding, and respect. Groups are launched near the beginning of each semester, and participants meet regularly to discuss the issues and themes covered by the authors. 

The goal of these Learning Communities is to help us develop tools for more thoughtful interaction across difference, while understanding how our attempts at finding connections and building communities can also lead to polarization. These foundational concepts and skills are vital in our road to building an inclusive community grounded in dignity and respect.

These books approach these concepts in different ways, with Verna Myers taking a foundational approach that recognizes that we've all wondered if we said the wrong thing and worried about being culturally insensitive. Her book covers what we need to know about ourselves and others to speak inclusively. Brene Brown takes these concepts to the next step, teaching us what it means to truly belong and the values we build our communities around. Ibram Kendi's book asks us to challenge our concepts or racism and antiracism, and look within ourselves to identify our biases and how we can actively work towards building an antiracist society.

** Supervisors are asked to give staff release time to participate in Learning Communities. If you require assistance gaining release time, please contact us at diversity@umass.edu.

** Physical copies of books have previously been purchased by OEI and provided for free to participants. At the moment, given that the physical Office of Equity and Inclusion is unoccupied and staff are working remotely, we ask that you use the online/ebook versions available at the library. If this poses an accessibility challenge, please contact us at diversity@umass.edu so we may make accommodations.

Watch the August 4, 2020 Info Session

Registration is Open!


Headshot of Verna Myers standing in front of the ocean

Book 1: What If I Say The Wrong Thing?

"What If I Say The Wrong Thing?" is a highly rated, short, easily digestible handbook of thought-provoking tips on how to be, and how to help others become, more culturally effective.  Author Vernā Myers explores the pitfalls of engaging across difference and offers solutions in powerful but accessible ways.

Brene Brown standing on stage in front of a blue curtain

Book 2: Braving the Wilderness

"Braving the Wilderness" challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture. She argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. 

Headshot of Ibram Kendi

Book 3: How to be an Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi's concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America--but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.