Recent events of violence and discrimination in the U.S. and worldwide, coupled with a contentious election season, are being felt on campus communities. These events have the potential to increase the stress levels among our students and faculty and result in the need to engage in difficult conversations. Many students, especially those new to college, may have limited experience interacting with people whose cultures, ideas, and perspectives differ from their own.
How should instructors respond?
Understanding Our Current Racially and Politically Charged Climate
Students and faculty across the country are responding in various ways to recent incidents of racism and other violent acts, some of which are due to or exacerbated by a tense election season. Instructors can read more about these incidents and responses to them here:
Resources on Dealing With Hate Speech
The University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has a blog posting on Responding to Incidents of Hate Speech. The post “offers advice for instructors as well as links to more extensive guidelines for handling these issues when they arise in class, either in planned or spontaneous ways. This includes recommendations for self care for faculty, especially those from targeted groups.”
Implications of the Upcoming U. S. Election for Teaching
Many of our students will be voting for the first time in the upcoming general election. Instructors may wish to ask themselves how their teaching is being impacted by the social and cultural climate of this election season. In particular, how are our particular disciplines impacted by the election, in what ways can our courses engage students in principles of democracy, and how might some students and instructors be especially affected by the election?
Additional ideas for teaching in the context of the election season are available here: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/node/92763
Instructors may wish to draw on some of these suggested resources and strategies to assist with their own classroom and campus conversations with the goal of encouraging and modeling a peaceful, fair, and inclusive exchange of ideas.