Just as the U.S. population is growing increasingly diverse, the nation’s K-12 schools are becoming more segregated — a situation that poses a threat to the quality of higher education for all groups and to the success of American democracy.
That was the message delivered by Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College and a writer and psychologist whose specialty is race relations, to an audience at the University of Delaware on Nov. 12. Her talk, titled “Diversity, Democracy and Leadership: Education for the 21st Century,” was UD’s 2013 Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education.
“The decision makers of the future are the college students of today,” Tatum said, calling higher education “a location where crucial connections can be forged” among diverse groups. Research finds that young people who interact with those from different racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic groups while in college tend to continue that habit, living in more diverse neighborhoods and having a more diverse group of friends as they get older, she said.
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NANCY CANTOR, then the Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, delivered the annual Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education in October 2012.
The Center for the Study of Diversity and the President's Diversity Initiative co-sponsored this keynote address, which opened with a nod to the core mission of CSD: "It is not a new idea that the best way to tackle complex problems is to bring diverse perspectives to bear on them."
Chancellor Cantor discussed her vision of the university not as an ivory tower, but as a public good that must use its resources, intellectual capital, leadership and research to confront public challenges.
Click here to watch the video of Chancellor Cantor's talk.
CLAUDE M. STEELE, the I. James Quillen Dean of the School of Education at Stanford University, gave the inaugural lecture of the Center for the Study of Diversity in October 2011. At that time he was serving as Provost at Columbia University.
Dean Steele discussed the lessons about diversity detailed in his book, Whistling Vivaldi: and other clues to how stereotypes affect us (Norton).
Internationally known for his groundbreaking research on stereotype threat, Dean Steele described how targets of stereotypes must come to recognize the added burden they impose, and become vigilant to cues in their environment that signal they are in play. His research shows that academic performance may decline below the level of actual ability a person has when stereotypes threaten their psychological self-concept.
The research further shows that when the cues are changed or rendered irrelevant, performance rises to the level of actual ability. His theory, developed with respect to African Americans in academics and women in math, has been broadened to the more general idea of identity threat.
Steele identified ways to reduce identity or stereotype threat that included replacing high level of vigilance-to-threat orientation with cues that signaled compelling hope about belonging and succeeding in a college stetting; (grades increased by 1/3 of a GPA), introducing an incremental mindset(abilities are malleable not fixed), in a situation of threat to oneself concept, providing opportunities for a people to affirm a larger valued sense of self; and for elementary school students, creating identity-safe classrooms, characterized by child-centered teaching, positive relationships with students, a view of diversity as a resource among others, led to significantly improved performance on year-end tests.
Click here to watch Claude Steele speak about stereotype threat.