By Mary Packard, Associate
Two years ago the faculty at NDMU created a Faculty Anti-Racism Committee (ARC). One of its first accomplishments was the development of, and consensus building around an anti-racism statement. At the same time, working in subcommittees, members of the ARC studied and made recommendations in the areas of culture, hiring practices, and anti-racist curriculum and pedagogy. Below we highlight one of the recommendations that we made—development of a year-long professional development experience for faculty.
Inspired by the work of Layla Saad (2020) in her text Me and White Supremacy, Drs. Jina Fast (Philosophy), Stephanie Savick (Education), and Mary Packard (Nursing) designed a two-part professional development opportunity for university faculty. The hope is to engage the difficult work of deep reflection of our white supremacy and to eventually articulate and live anti-racist practices. Saad (2020) writes that three things are needed for this work: truth, love, and commitment. The work is necessarily dialogic. In order to create the possibility for the depth of work required we have organized our work according to the structure and processes of Circle Practice with emphasis on the principles of circle (Baldwin & Linnea, 2010)--rotating leadership, relying on wholeness, and sharing responsibility. And indeed, creating a culture of conversation.
Part One of the Professional Development consists of four 1 ½ hour long sessions over the course of the fall semester. Each session is guided by questions that Saad presents including the topics of white privilege, white fragility, white silence, anti-Blackness, tone policing, white feminism, white leaders, and more. Participants come prepared with reflections and share in circle in the presence of one another and a rotating host and guardian.
Part Two will be offered for the first time in the spring, 2023. We will read several texts together and focus on anti-racist curriculum and pedagogical practices. So far, participants have expressed gratitude for this creation of a space for allowing vulnerability and deep shared reflection. We recognize that anti-racism is a lifelong practice and we are grateful to be sharing this journey of love, truth, and commitment. We acknowledge university support for materials and consultation through a faculty research grant.
Mary and Stephanie are both SSND Associates and members of the SSND Dismantling Racism Committee.