Schreyer grant funds Abington faculty equity and inclusion workshop

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ABINGTON, Pa. — A grant from Penn State’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence funded training for Penn State Abington faculty to advance teaching for equity and inclusion by better incorporating such elements into their pedagogy.  

Schreyer awarded Melanie Boston, the assistant director of the Office of Global Programs at Abington, a $3,600 grant to support her proposal, "Intercultural Development on Campus: Shifting Perceptions." She hired Tara Harvey of True North Intercultural, an expert on the topic, to conduct two workshops for faculty.  

“Through these workshops, you come to understand how you are acting on your own cultural assumptions. For example, we have a lot of students who come from cultures where asking for help isn’t the norm. Faculty learn how to engage students in something that is challenging without demanding they change,” Boston said. “The challenge is, how do I do this while still maintaining academic standards? We learn to bridge the gap and adapt our own behavior.” 

Boston said she thought Harvey was a good match for the 14 faculty who participated along with Global Programs staff.  

“Tara has a saying: ’How do I fill my role, meet my goal, and not lose my soul?’” saidBoston, who enrolled in a one semester professional development course led by Harvey last fall. 

Faculty and staff also completed the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a survey to assess their mindset and skillset at individual and organizational levels to provide a richer understanding of their successes and challenges related to cultural diversity. After taking the survey, a debrief helped them fully understand their place on the IDI continuum. 

"This was about faculty and staff being aware of their own perceptions and how the students are making meaning and perceiving things every day,” Boston said. 

Feedback from the group highlighted that the journey toward advancing equity and inclusion in teaching is unique for each person although they share the same goal of understanding how they interact and its impact on students’ daily lives. 

Boston’s grant was awarded through the Schreyer institute’s 2023-24 Advancing Equity and Inclusion program to support projects that can influence faculty ability to make substantial changes to teaching and learning beyond an individual course. 

Her faculty co-investigators were Jake Benfield, professor of psychological and social sciences; Bill Cromar, associate teaching professor of art; and Burcu Ozden, assistant professor of physics and engineering

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.