As a scholar of gender and sexuality, I regard the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as central to all aspects of my work at the university. Their presence—and absence—has defined my time in academia. As a gay man, I distinctly remember how inhospitable classroom environments impaired my learning throughout my education—and how inclusive, positive ones enhanced my learning and empowered me to pursue a career in higher education.
Here’s a few examples of how I have worked to disrupt and transform inequities and forms of supremacies the academy and my communities:
- At Vassar College, I am spearheading a department-wide move to decolonize the curriculum in ways that embrace difference as indispensable to our ethos. Together with my colleagues in the German Studies department, we are reevaluating and revising textbooks, course offerings, curricula and syllabi, and departmental policies to ensure a more inclusive and dynamic program for our undergraduate students.
- For the last three years, I have spearheaded and supervised a multi-year project to diversify and make more inclusive the German department’s curriculum, course offerings, and climate. I created the German Studies Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Research and Teaching Database, a Canvas-hosted interactive platform that collects hundreds of cultural objects (texts, art, music, film, etc.) by historically marginalized groups to facilitate their uptake in our teaching and research. I collaborated with digital humanists to design original teaching modules, activities, lesson plans, and syllabi for specific themes, topics, and individual materials. A dynamic project, it also allows for fellow instructors to upload their own materials and experiment with what’s already there. In short, my goal has been to recast German Studies by centering difference and bringing the voices of the marginalized as key players—and not tokens—in our field.
- In 2019, I co-founded and served on my department’s first DEI Committee, where I co-wrote our department’s first anti-racism mission statement, designed and facilitated faculty workshops on inclusive and anti-racist teaching, and successfully applied for competitive university-wide grants to fund our efforts.
- I’ve designed and facilitated several original workshops on the following topics: teaching with queer pedagogy, inclusive student group dynamics and collaboration, and anti-racist teaching.
- To inform myself of the theory behind equity work, inclusive teaching, and anti-racist pedagogies, I earned my university’s Professional Development Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate. A two-year-long program, I developed my own philosophy of applied social justice and learned how to turn values into concrete actions and practices for both my teaching and the university environment.
- To contribute to a nation-wide conversation on DEI and anti-racist pedagogies, I’ve published two essays on queer pedagogy and inclusive language instruction. See here for more information.