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Diversifying your course syllabus

A resource guide for instructors and faculty to assist in reviewing or building new course syllabi with a focus on inclusivity and diversity in both style and content.

Diversity Syllabus Statements

Including a diversity statement in your syllabus communicates and models your commitment to inclusion in your course. You can repurpose an existing statement from other Universities or write your own. 

Things to consider when writing a diversity statement

  • Acknowledge diversity issues within your discipline and consider how it may affect students of different backgrounds and how you can challenge these issues (ex. Art history canon is traditionally focused primarily on Western art). 
  • Consider how will you ensure everyone's voice is heard within the class.
  • Think about how you will handle sensitive discussions around diversity topics that arise in the class.
  • How will you demonstrate your commitment to diversity in your course?
  • Commit to creating a safe(r) space in the classroom (see TMU's code of conduct).

Resources:

Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University. Diversity & Inclusion Syllabus Statements

Everly Center, Carnegie Mellon University. (2021). Diversity Statement on a Syllabus.

Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, Clemson University. (2019). Diversity & Inclusion Syllabus Statements.

Finding Diverse Experts

One argument that arises when discussing diversifying course readings is that it's difficult to specifically identify and locate more diverse experts. To help solve this issue, many Expert databases have been created to promote diverse experts in a variety of fields.

Resources for Indigenous ways of knowing

Model outlining Student engagement, instructor needs and student concerns.

Stryker Calvez. Source and more information.

Include diverse perspectives

Start with a Library search for more diverse topics and authors in your discipline and consult our subject research guides, which can help point out key resources. You can also use Google and Google scholar or diversity databases (see our "Find diverse experts" section) to locate diverse academics.

Tips for diversifying readings from Tufts University Libraries

  • Invite guest speakers who bring different perspectives.
  • Use diverse A/V material (films, interviews, TED talks, podcasts etc.)
  • Incorporate readings that challenge standard approaches
  • Use primary research with authorship that reflects local collaborators. 
  • Offer multiple perspectives in assigned readings and let students choose which to read or discuss.

 

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners

Microagressions in the Classroom

Activities

My Fullest Name Activity, Equity Literacy Institute and EDChange: Help students become acquainted by discussing their background through their names. 

Religious & Cultural Observances

(From Human Rights Services) Religious accommodation is the right to have time away from study or work to practice the tenets of one's faith, as long as it does not cause the university undue hardship.

Cultural observances of Indigenous Peoples (First NationsMétis, Inuit, status, and non-status) cannot be easily defined and are not reflected in the calendars. Indigenous spiritual and cultural observances may include ceremonies that are connected to the seasons or to life stages.

Ryerson should make every effort to recognize and accommodate Indigenous People in our community so they may fulfill their spiritual and cultural responsibilities.

When planning text and due dates, you can consult these lists of observances, organised by month: 2021 Calendar2022 Calendar

Student Request form for Accommodation of Religious, Aboriginal, and Spiritual Observance