Twenty-four University of Central Florida faculty and staff members for the past academic year have met once a month to discuss inclusiveness, explore their own feelings about the topic and learn of others’ perspectives – all in an effort to create more inclusive curriculum and workplace environments.
The group made up the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s first cohort of Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, known as SEED, which is a national model of professional development for leaders. Started more than 30 years ago, SEED aims to create curricula, teaching methods and workplace practices that are gender-fair, multicultural, socioeconomically aware, and globally informed. Through peer discussions, participants are challenged to reflect on how they contribute to a diverse environment and how they can improve.
Topics included experiences with oppression and privilege, and how race, class, gender and more play out systematically in schools, workplaces and communities. Participants also were shown respectful dialogue, best practices and systematic power structures that can influence how diversity and inclusion are incorporated into different environments. Rachel Luce-Hitt, coordinator of educational/training programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is a trained SEED facilitator and led discussions.
The goal of SEED at UCF is to provide a safe space where people of various backgrounds can come together to explore their identities and perspectives, and learn how in their daily lives they can implement more diverse and equitable practices.
“With UCF being so large, the SEED program offered a rare opportunity to discuss and process a wide variety of issues related to diversity and campus civility in a safe environment,” said Bill Blank, director of Career Development in Career Services, who has been at UCF for 16 years. “Being able to communicate with honesty and authenticity resulted in a better understanding of myself, as well as the diverse group of participants.”
Jeanine Viau, lecturer of religion and cultural studies, said: “SEED has been one of the most meaningful training programs I have participated in since coming to UCF. I found the interpersonal engagement very refreshing.”
Applications to participate in the 2017-18 cohort of SEED at UCF are due June 5. For more information, visit https://diversity.ucf.edu/faculty-staff/seed/