International Studies & Programs

Alliance for African Partnership, African Studies Center, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Office of China Programs receive Creating Inclusive Excellence grants

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Published: Wednesday, 08 Dec 2021 Author: Veronica Gracia-Wing

Four International Studies and Programs centers and units will have the opportunity to create synergy across organizational systems within and beyond the university in support of an inclusive educational and work environment through the Creating Inclusive Excellence at Michigan State University funding.

“These projects take MSU’s value of inclusiveness to task,” said Ashley Green, ISP’s assistant dean for administration and director of diversity, equity and inclusion. “Through the grants, the Alliance for African Partnership, African Studies Center, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Office of China Programs will make an impact on campus and beyond by modeling approaches of co-creation, building trust and intentionally providing opportunities for strengthening inclusive excellence and contributing to MSU’s strategic intent.” 

Read more about the projects and their impacts below.

Project: Increasing participation of Black Diaspora faculty and academic staff at MSU in African partnerships —Diverse Black Africa Program

Project goals: The Diverse Black Africa Program will create a sustainable community of practice to foster new collaborations and strengthen existing ties between Black Diaspora faculty and academic staff at Michigan State University and faculty and academic staff based at African universities in the Alliance for African Partnership consortium. This project supports MSU’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategic objectives, and promotes the success of underrepresented faculty and academic staff. 

Partners: Alliance for African Partnership, African Studies Center, Black Faculty, Staff & Administrators Association, and the Diversity Research Network

Impact: The project will increase understanding and perceptions of Africa and the Diaspora;  increase contributions towards strengthening research, teaching and outreach capacity; and increase numbers of internationally engaged Black Diaspora faculty at MSU, while advancing their careers. 

From the project team: The AAP is committed to increasing the diversity of MSU faculty, staff and administrators that are engaged in African partnerships, which is aligned to ISP’s global DEI strategy. Our target for this project is Black African Diaspora faculty and academic staff—who are born outside of Africa—to establish new partnerships that will support inclusive excellence and career advancement.

Project: Decoloniality Dialogues: Building decolonial commitments and praxis in university contexts

Partners: African Studies Center, Office of International Studies in Education, UW-Madison African Studies Program

Project goals: Decoloniality Dialogues is a 13-member transnational team of scholars committed to engaging with decolonial theory and practice. Four members of the team are based at MSU within the African Studies Center and College of Education. This team, in collaboration with their MSU partners, will create resources, develop workshop facilitation guides and offer community learning forums to weave together a triple-stranded thread of commitments to decolonizing education; multi-modal approaches to knowledge creation and dissemination; and our individual and collective responsibilities in relation to universities, research communities and community/activist organizations.

Impact: Decoloniality names and challenges dominant structures and discourses of power that privilege Eurocentric ways of speaking, knowing and being through violence and oppression and connects the false delineation between DEI and internationalization to the common colonial fiction that humans have inherent differences and can be separated into different groups based on geography, culture and society. 

From the project team: How can we build decolonial commitments and praxis in university contexts that are themselves colonial and colonizing? What kind of decolonial possibilities can be imagined and actualized within educational institutions with colonial legacies of dispossession of lands, identities, languages, knowledges, histories and cultures? Guided by these questions, the Decoloniality Dialogues team will assemble a comprehensive pedagogical resource kit and facilitate a series of workshops focused on decolonial commitments and praxis in the university contexts of teaching, research and administration.

Project: Anti-racist pedagogies and policies in education in Brazil and the U.S.

Project goals: This project will bring together experts on anti-racist policies, activism and pedagogies from Brazil and the U.S.—including MSU faculty—to compare anti-racist practices and their outcomes across the two countries. Via a series of symposia and workshops, the project will engage faculty and students from MSU as well as local K-12 teachers and administrators seeking fresh ideas about how to address racial inequities.

Partners: The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; English; African American and African Studies; Romance and Classical Studies; Teacher Education; Educational Administration; the Office of International Studies in Education; the Race in 21st Century America Conference; Social Relations and Comparative Cultures and Politics programs; and LATTICE.

Impact: These events will enable faculty to integrate comparative content on race and innovative anti-racist pedagogical approaches into their courses and generate new collaborative research. For MSU students, these events and the critical, comparative course content that results will broaden their understanding of struggles around racial inequity. Partners from local K-12 institutions will gain deeper understandings of race and anti-racist practices and pedagogies.

From the project team: There is much to be gained by thinking comparatively about the policies and practices deployed to challenge racism and transform racial inequities in Brazil and the US, the two countries in the Americas with the largest Black populations. These events and the curricular innovations they generate will enable faculty and students to develop deeper insights into the on-going production of racial inequities and expand their knowledge and repertoires of anti-racist practices.

Project: Intensive academic writing and mentoring program for Chinese speaking international students

Partners: Office of China Programs, International Studies and Programs, School of Planning, Design and Construction, Visiting International Professional Program, Chinese Faculty Club

Project goals: The Office of China programs will deliver a short intensive academic writing program targeting international students from Chinese speaking countries and regions. The program aims to help students to improve their academic writing skills and promote academic integrity in a safe environment. A safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment is crucial to students’ success and this is especially true for international students who face some unique challenges when it comes to academic writing.

Impact: The project will enhance academic writing skills that this particular minority group of students desperately needs, creating a safe place for students from Chinese speaking countries and regions to adapt and integrate into academic life at MSU.

From the project team: This unique writing program delivered through the medium of Chinese includes an intensive course on academic writing coupled with a one-to-one mentoring program for Chinese speaking international students. The effort lays the groundwork for a new set of resources that will elevate the potential for Chinese undergraduates to be successful in their academic pursuits. This course is a proactive way to engage with the Chinese speaking community including students, faculty, instructors and staff, and to build an inclusive support network on campus.