Fall is my favorite season, mostly because of the beautiful colors that change the scenery when walking or driving around campus and local neighborhoods. The changing season is a good reminder of the richness of the foliage and the beauty of our environment. The MSU environment increasingly reflects the diversity of our students and educators in their roles and backgrounds. Honoring our environment requires a commitment to inclusivity that we intentionally weave into our everyday interactions and connections. Inclusivity can be as natural as the changing of the leaves and the beauty of the four seasons.
The pandemic and its evolving aftermath have laid bare inequities in the policies and practices that have existed for quite a while, making attention to inclusive environments more important as we move forward. MSU’s Strategic Plan 2030 and messages from university leaders reinforce the commitment to growth and inclusivity. We know pedagogically that our community requires different approaches to facilitate learning for our students and our faculty. We know that our research has greater impact when we ensure those not typically represented in study designs are involved before generalizing results. To reach the university’s aspirations we need to ask ourselves:
- How do we build community and inclusion in hybrid learning and work environments?
- What does it mean to have and act on shared goals and mutual learning, in and out of the classroom?
- How do we better recognize the contributions of all our members, not just those traditionally held up for view?
- How can we better acknowledge excellence throughout the institution, at all levels and in all settings, beyond the most obvious junctures of receiving very significant grants and awards?
Certainly, our efforts to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty, and staff require us to continually assess the environment in which we thrive and succeed.
- Do we provide supports that meet faculty and students where they are?
- Are we each willing to do our part and to recognize each other and our experiences in this collective endeavor?
- Are we ready to truly enact inclusive environments for all?
We are making great strides and still have a long way to go to live out the values in our strategic plans related to inclusion in all our shared spaces. It is different in each corner of our academic world, but together we begin to resemble the colorful landscape of MSU just as all the leaves of different trees contribute to the beauty of Michigan fall.
Resources for consideration: