Formally launched in 2015 and adapted from the University of Michigan’s foundational STRIDE model, UMBC – STRIDE embraces a peer to peer education model in which highly respected faculty serve as STRIDE fellows who work within their communities to raise awareness about implicit biases and strategize best practices for recruiting and retaining a diverse and inclusively excellent professoriate.
Our goal is to develop a critical mass of diverse faculty at all levels of the university along with a critical mass of faculty committed to the principles of diversity and inclusive excellence
A Critical Diversity and Social Justice Approach
UMBC – STRIDE works within the framework of critical diversity (Herring and Henderson, 2013). Critical diversity can be defined as “the equal inclusion of people from varied backgrounds on a parity basis throughout all ranks and division of [an] organization. It especially refers to inclusion of those who are considered to be different from traditional members because of exclusionary practices (page).” This critical approach allows STRIDE to recognize diversity as multidimensional and intersectional and grounded within a context-specific historical framework.The critical diversity perspective facilitates a historical and context-specific approach through a disaggregation of the macro university to reveal underrepresentation at the meso level of colleges, and more micro levels of departments, disciplines, and sub-disciplines. UMBC – STRIDE also situates diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education within a social justice paradigm (Byrd, 2014).
The Focused Conversation – Community Based Approach
In lieu of the traditional workshop model UMBC – STRIDE has adopted the format of focused conversations to enact change at UMBC. Under this model, rather than positioning themselves as the “experts,” UMBC STRIDE positions themselves as embedded advocates for change, who are part of a larger community of UMBC faculty advocates and change agents. UMBC – STRIDE regularly holds “Behind Closed Doors” meetings with search committees, faculty, UMBC faculty conducting research within these areas, and members of UMBC’s Community Based Faculty groups (Black Faculty Committee, LGBT Faculty Staff/Association, Latino/Hispanic Faculty Association, Women and Science and Engineering Group) to discuss the issues, learn from one another, and to strategize our collective next steps. This approach ensures that UMBC – STRIDE validates the voices and agency of our community members, especially those from groups which have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.
Throughout the academic year UMBC-STRIDE hosts a series of targeted focused conversations at various points throughout the search process (i.e., Planning for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence in Your Search, Developing Evaluation Metrics: Maximizing Interfolio, Implicit Bias, and Best Interviewing Practices for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, Departmental Climate). These larger focused conversations borrow from the active learning model and include highly interactive group activities to spark dialogue about topics. Through this approach, UMBC – STRIDE, rather than only raising awareness about the issues, models how and encourages faculty to work together to develop and then implement tangible actions for change.
Byrd, M.Y. (2014). “Re-Conceptualizing and re-visioning diversity in the workforce: Toward a social justice paradigm.” In Byrd, M.Y. and Scott, C.L. (Eds.), Diversity in the workforce: Current issues and emerging trends, (334-346). New York: Routledge.
Herring C., and Henderson, L. (2013). Critical diversity: The new case for inclusion and equal opportunity. Chicago, IL: Diverse Solutions.