The Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) will be continuing the Learning Communities initiative for a fourth consecutive semester this spring. Learning Communities are based on two books carefully chosen to foster constructive conversations around the topics of inclusion, bias, empathy, understanding and respect. Those interested in participating or hosting a group may express their interest on the OEI website.
Faculty, staff and students who are new to the Learning Community initiative are invited to join by participating in a book group based on “What if I Say the Wrong Thing?” by Verna Myers, vice president of inclusion strategy at Netflix. Readers will learn how to engage effectively and with respect, even when experiences or beliefs sharply differ.
Returning Learning Community members have the option to read Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Power to Stand Alone”. Brown’s book delves deeper into the challenges off communicating with others, particularly in a time when we face great political and social polarization.
An estimated two-dozen groups will meet throughout the semester. Meeting frequency, times and locations will be determined by the host and all groups will meet a minimum of four times. Members will have access to online resources to reference and guide them as they read and discuss the books. Supervisors are asked to provide release time to staff who would like to participate.
Hosting a group is easy and comes with the benefit of setting the time and location of the meetings. Responsibilities associated with hosting are to:
• Set the dates and meeting times for the meetings. We ask that groups meet at times that accommodate the class period schedule to make meetings accessible to students and faculty.
• Reserve a space for meetings.
• Make sure their group members receive a book. Hosts can pick books up for groups members at Whitmore and make arrangements to get them in participants' hands.
• Convene the first meeting of the book group, present the ground rules for discussion (provided by us), distribute the welcome packet and introduce the first conversation prompt. After this, we encourage different group members to kick off the discussion.
Learn more and sign up on the Learning Communities’ webpage.