Examine Your “isms” in DEI Class

I signed on to take the DEI Certificate class to enrich my knowledge through a course developed and taught by a person with disciplinary depth, to immerse myself in current DEI terminology, and to broaden my perspective through engagement with a geographically and professionally diverse group of people.

All three goals—and more— were met.

As a university professor, I believe it is critical to refresh my knowledge regarding social concepts, political movements, and generational perspectives. This course provides an excellent pathway to broaden perspectives on so many of the challenges we see today. As an educator, I care deeply about in-depth comprehension of generational lenses through which we view the full range of DEI challenges.

The DEI course instructor provides a manageable series of definitions, supporting materials, virtual meetings to discuss and question social constructs and assumptions, and assignments that encourage a direct examination of our own blind spots. The instructor managed to navigate the rough passage through white privilege, established bias, and subliminal aggressions with candor and finesse.

At no time does the instructor make one feel “less than” but she does directly address the framework through which it is possible to examine our own misconceptions as well of those of others.

It was an excellent learning experience that made me reevaluate my ways of engaging with the troubled waters of racism, sexism, ableism, and a full range of “isms” that need reexamination in the harsh light of day.

It became clear that progressive goodwill is not the solitary answer to oppression; rather, it is a humbling process of listening, learning and unlearning, observing, and committing to honest self-assessment. I highly recommend the class to anyone who is or hopes to be able to effect change both personally and professionally.

Judith Swift is a Director at the Coastal Institute in Narrgansett, Rhode Island. She was a participant the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate Program, offered by the Division of Continuing Education and Community Engagement.