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Welcome to the God Embassy Training College Diversity and Inclusion
STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
In order to properly adapt higher education institutions to the new demands of more inclusive pedagogy, curriculum, and residential life, we need strategic academic leadership.
Scientific management, evolutionary, social cognition, cultural, political, and institutional change. Which model of change best fits your context depends on the timeframe for change, and why the change is occurring among other things. provides a full schematic for the characteristics of these six approaches to change, as well as tactics, criticisms, and benefits for the various approaches.
Change in higher education is difficult. Strategic leadership within a higher education context, requires a given individual or committee to consider what mandate exists to support diversity and inclusion differently than has been done before within the institution. Much of the work already being done on campuses emanates from the student affairs or residential life offices of a given institution. These branches often provide awareness workshops and run cultural centers of various forms. Engaging with the efforts already underway can be a good place to start. But which school of change and which tactics are deployed depends on the decision-making context of the given institution. In addition, strategic leadership in this context requires key relationships to be leveraged where there is agency to do so. Does a given committee or individual have the agency for providing incentives and rewards for curricular change, physical space change, and pedagogical innovations? These are the questions to ask when addressing which process of change best suits the diversity and inclusion goals being developed and what actions are to be deployed. Practitioners can rely on multiple theories of change and corresponding tactics. In the next section action items that can integrate these change tactics are shared.
Action Items to Adapt Your Institution for Diversity and Inclusion and the Application of Change Tactics.
Applying the strategic change model that best fits the distinctive institutional context of a given university is the first step. Once this is done there are several different areas for change highlighted here that can be action items to work toward. There should be a diversity plan and mandate from somewhere within the institutions often this comes from the student body more than the leadership to drive change. Asking what the distinctive areas of concern within the institution are and how will addressing them improve learning is helpful. Below is a collection of some of the areas that can be engaged for strategic academic development of diversity and inclusion in higher education institutions across Ghanians and Nigerians.
Where there is a means and inclination to do so, a mandate to address learning spaces for diversity and inclusion is ideal. As there are hundreds of new universities being built across Asia at the moment, there is a unique opportunity to take advantage of this boom for diversity and inclusion. Whereas in the west higher education is not expanding, across Ghana and Nigeria, the hundreds of new buildings and campuses popping up can be purpose-built for inclusion and impactful learning.
There are many ways to develop inclusive buildings that acknowledge and integrate diversity. The most apparent is to design builds that are accessible to all types of students and their abilities. The buildings should be accessible to the sight-impaired, the hearing impaired, and for those with non-chronic and chronic conditions. They should also include furniture and artwork that is representative of the regional context but also inclusive. This proximity between students and administrators lends itself to an inclusive community environment.
To give student voice to the design and function of the buildings, leaders can allow students to choose the artifacts that decorate the walls. And the design of administrative and student affairs office can be integrated to incorporate the students more literally into the decision-making structures of the institution. In addition, flexible classrooms with movable furniture and tables allow each instructor to devise a learning context that is appropriate to their classroom context. This enables what has traditionally been fixed roles between the instructor and the students to shift, allowing student-to-student learning that is invaluable for sharing a diverse set of perspectives on a given topic.
Which change process and tactics one can apply through strategic leadership for physical spaces depends on your context and timeframe. If the campus is in the design-phase, then there is endless possibility for inclusivity. If you are adapting an existing building or area of the campus, then the tactics will be different. The Evolutionary Method and the Scientific Method apply best to infrastructure given the permanence of building. The difference is in time frame. The evolutionary method is “rational, linear, and purposeful,” and occurs because leaders and the internal environment demand it. The Evolutionary Method of change occurs because of an external environmental issue. The timeframe is different, slower. The process of change for the Evolutionary Method involves adaption and is “slow; gradual; [and] un-intentional.” The adaption of an existing campus to diversity and inclusion needs may follow this change process. Combining the Evolutionary Method with the Political Method of change tactics can also be useful with physical plant adaptions that are costly. As noted above, the Political Method involves creating coalitions and identifying allies and fostering a collective vision of change. This can address the un-intentional aspects of the evolutionary method that could produce suboptimal results for infrastructure.
Changing Role of Curriculum Committees and Teaching and Learning Committees
When properly empowered to do so, curriculum committees play an important role within higher education institutions. Typically, versions of this body are mandated to address academic programming within an institution. This includes reviewing course proposals, approving or rejecting program changes and the addition or deletion of programs. Such committees also develop policies that relate to teaching and learning assessment and effectivness. Ideally, committee members have mastery of curriculum procedures and evidence-based best practice training in course design or subject matter.
Strategic leadership on a curriculum committee can be extremely impactful in integrating diversity and inclusion of the teaching and learning in a given institution. At the micro level, course reviews can look to sample reading lists for diversity of authors, regions, and views. They can look to assessment assignments in a course proposal to ensure that there is a variety of ways in which a given student can demonstrate their understanding of the material. At the macro level, curriculum committees can review programs from top to bottom. Does a given program have a diverse set of faculty teaching into it? Does that program have broad regional representation in its courses where that is disciplinarily relevant. Does that program complement the diversity of programs already on offer or is one area being over emphasized relative to a marginalized population? These are the sorts of issues a curriculum committee leader can take up when given the mandate to do so.
Teaching and Learning committees can address issues such as gender bias in student course evaluations and their questions; grading, assessment, and feedback norms; syllabus template policies; and peer observation practices that might emphasize inclusivity in the classroom. They can also weave criteria related to inclusive teaching into teaching recognition awards, tenure and promotion criteria, and bonus structures. Finally, such committees can work closely with academic technology units to explore new software purchases that impact the entire campus. For example, playing a role in the learning management system to ensure that it is user friendly for less digitally literature students, or if such skills are needed, ensuring that the university supplies student support for becoming comfortable with the new software. Or ensure there are funds available to buy ability enabling software for those with visual or learning impairments.
Working from the perspective that change in this area comes from a committee chair, the strategic academic leadership needed is distinctive to a given personality but also the change context. Change can come about through the Social Cognition Method for this purpose. Here the change occurs because of the cognitive dissonance and the appropriateness of the changes being proposed. The needs to facilitate the change through learning and altering the complex paradigm or lens that colleagues on the committee are applying to diversity and inclusion. The change is individual in focus and involves a new frame of mind. The benefit of this approach is that it emphasizes the individual’s beliefs as barriers that can be addressed by helping them adapt to the change.
The Evolutionary method of change can also be effectively applied to this action area for diversity and inclusion. Here the change outcome is to develop new structures and processes. Although the timeframe is gradual and nonlinear, most of the work done by academic committees is slow. A combination of the Evolutionary Method with the Social Cognition method deployed in a higher education setting would be ideal for using committee work to integrate new structures and policies for diversity and inclusion. For example, developing a check list for necessary characteristics of a syllabus, and developing workshops for faculty to learn how best to design courses for inclusion.
Where the culture is much more hierarchical, this process would run even more smoothly. Implementation would then be the challenge. The leaders set the tone for making commitments to diversity, but the actual implementation came from the participants across campus; people already committed to diversity goals enacted the plans.”24 Committee leadership needs to follow-up on the implementation of the policies to ensure the vision and implementation align. This involves reaching out to IT departments to ensure the necessary tracking and electronic implementation is done. This also involves reaching out to Human Resources to address tenure and promotion or bonus structures. This involves reaching out the faculty themselves, multiple times a year, on these issues. Here the tactic of developing new policies through committees should be coordinated with academic development units as well. The next section addresses strategic academic leadership for diversity and inclusion in academic development units.
Academic Support Units Libraries, Writings Centres, and Centers for Teaching and Learning
In universities around the world there is a coming together of libraries, writing centers, and teaching and learning centers. The roles within a given higher education context vary, but regardless of specific context, together these three units support learning and teaching outside of the classroom that is essential to an impactful learning experience. How we research and understand information literacy is a key teaching point for librarians. How we communicate ideas and develop critical thinking skills, while also addressing language barriers, is a key function of writing centers. And how we deliver peer tutoring support, learning accommodations, graduate student teaching training, and faculty development are all key roles of centers for teaching and learning. Together these three units impact each student on campus. Strategic leadership for diversity and inclusion can be effectively guided through these units to buttress classroom curriculum and experiential learning.
We provided a detailed review of the ways in which libraries embed diversity through staffing, culture, collections, services, and programming. When addressing the diversity of collections, the library staff can work with faculty and students to not only ensure that the collection includes a variety of voices and perspective, but also that the collection has sources in a many different forms to allow for physical and learning differences that benefit from oral histories, videos, and other multimedia sources. Programming that aligns with international curriculum and coordinates with the values of various student groups and local issues can be very powerful when done well. Where the legal and regulatory environment permits, there is a leadership opportunity for libraries in creating a display and programming space for discussion with and about underrepresented communities on campus. Librarians can be the strategic leadership needed, or they can work across the academic support units to share diverse viewpoints inside and outside the classroom as a piece of a larger effort.
It is important to develop objective measures of performance and success for diversity and inclusion in order to hold the institution to account for the vision and programs they have put in place. It is one thing to determine the best way to pursue strategic change, it is another to determine how you will measure the efforts and their results. Strategic academic leadership requires the articulation of what success for inclusion and underrepresented groups on campus would look like in a given context. Additionally, leadership needs to build in accountability mechanisms. Measuring success can be challenging because the changes may not all be tangible. In some contexts, efforts will be around improved tolerance for difference. In others, it is about acceptance of difference. And in some, it is about full integration and community learning around diversity and inclusion. Legal and regulatory laws may not allow explicit acknowledgment of some groups, but the university policies and practices implemented can still benefit everyone’s learning regardless of difference.
Being accountable means funding and valuing research on student learning. Strategic leadership in this space can support highering expertise in this area, or promoting from within. Lacking evidence-based best practice in how to measure the outcomes of diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus also remains a challenge for accountability.
This chapter has highlighted the changing diversity within higher education institutions across Ghana and Nigeria n has provided suggestions for how to identify the best avenues for strategic leadership around diversity and inclusion. With by Professor showcasing different mechanisms and approaches institutional leadership and change, the article also provides a summary of actionable strategic changes within an institution. A review of five possible actions that can be taken for strategic academic leadership are shared. These are the development of:
(1) new physical spaces on a given campus;
(2) the hiring of a chief diversity officer;
(3) the changing role of curriculum committees and teaching and learning committees;
(4) Engagement with academic support Units libraries, writings centers, centers for teaching and learning;
(5) and developing policies and mechanism for accountability around diversity and inclusion.
This chapter has spoken to a broader perspective on diversity and inclusion than the other chapters of this book, bringing together the ways in which the ideas in this book can be enacted in different higher education contexts. Collectively, this edited volume illuminates the many ways in which being cognizant of students’ diverse experiences and backgrounds and designing curricula and courses with that diversity in mind, faculty can maximize student learning. Students will look to faculty and staff for leadership intellectual and moral in difficult and uncomfortable situations. The more we know about our students and their educational background the better we can anticipate challenges that will arise and respond in ways that achieve deep learning and avoid harm. This book provides practical advice on how to manage these issues within higher education across Ghana and Nigeria.