Tips for Grads: Integrating Diversity Into Your Curriculum

Guest column by Laura Livingston, PhD student

As a female teaching assistant who often teaches science and agriculture related courses, I do not always see my identity reflected in the authors, scientists and theorists assigned in course syllabi. Many people, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQI, and people who are disabled, rarely see themselves represented in course materials. Curriculum has the potential to undervalue the perspectives, experiences, and knowledge of those whose voices are not included.

Whether you create your own curriculum, work with a professor who is open to creating an inclusive classroom, or hope to teach in the future, your curriculum choices can be the catalyst for change within your department.

What can we do as educators to address this representation gap in academic learning?

  • Integrate international authors and diverse perspectives within the United States in required course readings.
  • Provide examples of people from marginalized communities that have made contributions to your field.
  • Create a visual diagram of photos of all authors and voices represented in your classroom. Does this accurately reflect the population of the United States or of the world?
  • Invite guest speakers who bring a different perspective or positionality within your field.
  • Apply for teaching fellowships or join local or online communities of instructors to learn inclusive teaching practices from other instructors.

Other academics have created Diversified Reading Lists and Guides to Inclusive Teaching which may apply to your discipline or may inspire you to create your own.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.