Faculty Members Lead Push for Inclusive Interdisciplinarity

Inclusion is far more than a buzzword for Honors College faculty members Megha Anwer and Lindsay Weinberg. It is a deliberate, carefully formulated goal — the bedrock they build their courses on. Recently recognized as “champions of student success” by the Purdue Teaching Academy and Center for Instructional Excellence, the duo go to great lengths to ensure every scholar in the Honors College is able to contribute, listen, learn, and feel valued by their instructor and peers alike. 

The CIE is celebrating Anwer and Weinberg’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as their pursuit of teaching excellence with a Teaching Leadership Award. The honor not only highlights their efforts to move the needle on inclusion, but also supplies funding for a series of faculty workshops. These sessions, set to begin in Fall 2020, will offer Honors College faculty an opportunity to develop and articulate a shared vision for facilitating deeply equitable learning environments. Notably, the workshops will tap into the strengths and existing practices of individual faculty members to best support students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

“We want to be on the cutting edge of pedagogical initiatives that produce not only exemplary, but also deeply ethical teachers in the classroom,” the pair explained. “As an interdisciplinary unit, we have particular pedagogical needs that are best suited to address with these type of in-house workshops.”

The Honors College curriculum is focused on providing students the critical thinking skills they will need to grapple with challenging social problems across a range of historical and geographic contexts. Anwer and Weinberg envision the faculty workshops as an opportunity to build on that collectively. Together, they say faculty members will develop technical “know how” for incorporating equity strategies in an interdisciplinary classroom. In particular, they will learn how to best facilitate difficult conversations, especially those pertaining to race.

“For inclusion to be truly meaningful and successful, it cannot be tackled, as universities so often do, without addressing the deep structural inequalities that seep into our classrooms, dorms, programming initiatives, or stopgap measures that tokenize minorities,” Anwer and Weinberg added. “At the Honors College, we are committed to building an inclusive community by embedding diversity, inclusion and equity considerations, both into our daily routines, as well as into the foundational principals that govern the college’s academic, residential and programmatic pursuits.”

Weinberg, recently promoted to clinical assistant professor, and Anwer, the college’s director of diversity, inclusion, and equity, hope to see inclusion become an automatic component that inflects everything the college does. They plan to leverage their combined training and experiences in inclusive, critical, feminist, and anti-racist pedagogies to spearhead the initiative. Ultimately, they hope Honors College faculty members are able to create a common resource tool-kit as they reflect deeply on their individual approaches.

“We must feel empowered to recognize and appreciate the wealth and range of lived experiences that our students bring to the classroom,” Anwer added. “This requires developing structures of support that acknowledge the challenges and risks of having sincere dialogue about power, inequality, and injustice in socio-culturally diverse groups.”

The four-part workshop series will include four reading group sessions and two writing group sessions.

Writer: Lindsay Perrault, lperraul@purdue.edu

Sources: Dr. Megha Anwer, Dr. Lindsay Weinberg