Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community


The following projects are recommend for instructors who wish to address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom, as well as those instructors who are interested in adopting inclusive teaching practices.

Diversity Scholars [2016-2019]

The Diversity Scholars Program, led by CTE in consultation with the Office of Diversity & Equity, was a collegial, hands-on, monthly seminar for a small cohort of interested faculty who wanted to engage in these topics at a deliberate and self-reflective level. Led by program facilitators Marta Caminero-Santangelo (English), Darren Canady (English), and Shannon Portillo (School of Public Affairs & Administration), faculty in the seminar worked together—through readings, discussion, and the workshopping of ideas—on incorporating greater attention to diversity (broadly defined) and more inclusive practices in their classes. Participants also discussed department- or unit-specific strategies for working with colleagues in their own areas to promote and facilitate inclusive teaching and mentoring strategies in their departments or units. Every participant received a stipend of $2,500 for regular participation in the seminar and for successful implementation of a plan for course redesign and unit-level dissemination.


At the end of the academic year, each participant formulated:

  1. A plan for a course redesign incorporating new/enhanced practices, materials, and content that promote inclusivity and respect for diversity, broadly defined (documented by a poster/portfolio after the new iteration of the course has been taught)
  2. A plan for outreach and collaboration activities to foster adoption of similar review and redesign among colleagues in their units

Further, by more systematically embedding inclusive practices, content, and attention to diversity in courses, we hoped to improve the retention, progression and academic success of students from underrepresented groups, as well as to increase all our students’ understanding and respect for diversity.

Diversity Scholars for 2018-19 have been named:

Katie Batza Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Crystal Coles Social Welfare
Melanie DeRousse Law
Matthew Gillispie Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences & Disorders
Ani Kokobobo Slavic Langauges & Literatures
Brad Osborn Music
Hossein Saiedian Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Kelli Thomas Curriculum & Teaching
Luciano Tosta Spanish & Portuguese
Nilou Vakil Architecture 
Kyle Velte Law
Amber Watts Psychology

If you have questions about the program, please contact Center for Teaching Excellence Program Manager Judy Eddy at

Difficult Discussions

Difficult Discussions is a spin-off of a national model (Difficult Dialogues) that addresses the increasing polarization of our society and the need to deal more effectively with breakdowns in civil discourse; specifically in higher education. In essence, a difficult discussion can be an encounter among people with differing opinions, beliefs, perspectives or worldviews within our offices, classroom, labs, studios and work spaces or across the KU community. The overall goal is to create safer places for the free exchange of ideas, and to become more inclusive of voices and ways of knowing that have been absent, unpopular, excluded, or oppressed. Difficult Discussions at KU is a new course developed in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Equity, faculty from the School of Business and the Department of Theatre, and staff from Learning & Development. Participants will learn and practice effective listening and communication strategies and participate in an Interactive Theatre experience.

At CTE, we consider our organization an active member of the community of care promoted by the Office of Diversity and Equity. Please see our pages on Inclusive Teaching and Creating an Inclusive Syllabus for information on how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion into your classrooms.

Past CTE Workshops on Inclusive Teaching

CTE has offered several workshops on inclusive teaching throughout the past academic years. A brief list with descriptions of past workshops is included below. Please check back for information on upcoming workshops in the next academic year.

15 September 2017: “Best Practices for Effective, Productive, and Civil Class Discussions”

This interactive session involved participants in brainstorming and exploring the applicability of a wide variety of best practices for engaging students in small and large classrooms. We discussed long-term strategies to foster an inclusive climate and specific pedagogical tools and techniques to engage students. With Yvonnes Chen, Journalism and Mass Communications, and Ward Lyles, Urban Planning.

19 September 2017: “Inclusive Assignment Design”

In this hands-on session, instructors will had an opportunity to rethink their approach to an assignment to make it inclusive, by considering the content around which it is organized and the climate for learning it creates. Participants brought an idea for an assignment or in-class activity. During the workshop, they engaged with examples of how others have incorporated diverse perspectives and voices into their lessons, founds ways to prepare students for civil discussion of potentially controversial issues, and received feedback about potential hot spots and how to address them. With Andrea Greenhoot, CTE/Psychology, and Lua Yuille, Law.

28 September 2017: “Improving Student Engagement in Online Courses”

Online courses provide many opportunities for generating rich interactions among students and instructors, and drawing students into course material in meaningful ways. Creating that interaction online requires a different way of thinking than it does in the classroom, though. In this workshop, we discussed strategies for improving engagement and student learning online. With Julie Loats, Center for Online and Distance Learning; Susan Marshall, Psychology; and Doug Ward, CTE/Journalism and Mass Communications.

04 October 2017: “Creating Community to Enhance Teaching and Learning”

Fostering a community or culture of teaching and learning can be difficult, as research pressures (and other time commitments), institutional/departmental memory, faculty isolation, and other factors can all play a role in slowing course transformation efforts. Trevor Rivers (Undergraduate Biology) and Drew Vartia (Chemistry) offered a few tried methods that overcome some of these obstacles and initiated a larger group dialogue about other strategies that help foster a community of teaching and learning.

24 October 2017: “Representing and Reviewing Teaching”

How can you make your hard work with teaching innovations visible to others? What are ways you can easily represent the quality of your teaching for reviews, promotion and tenure, or teaching awards? How can you conduct thoughtful peer reviews of others' teaching that will provide useful feedback to the faculty member and valuable information for you and your colleagues? In this workshop, we considered possible answers to these questions. With Andrea Greenhoot, CTE/Psychology; Meagan Patterson, Educational Psychology; and Doug Ward, CTE/Journalism and Mass Communications.

20 September 2018: “Supporting Learning Among First-Generation College Students”

Nearly one third of college students are first generation college students—learners that come from families where neither parent has obtained a bachelor’s degree. They encounter challenges in almost all aspects of college, and studies show that only 40% of these students graduate. Join us for a discussion that will help instructors understand obstacles these students encounter in the classroom. We will also focus on guidance, support, and resources available at KU, as well as best practices that can be implemented in your courses. With Gretchen Heasty, Achievement & Assessment Institute; Marsha McCartney, Psychology; and Amy Rossomondo, Spanish & Portuguese.

08 October 2018: “More Than Numbers: KU Student Survey of Mental Health and Ways to Respond to It”

Christian Vargas, Outreach Coordinator, and Kimberly Reynolds, Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator, from KU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, will discuss findings from a recent KU student survey asking them about their mental health, substance use, and related issues. They will also discuss strategies that faculty and staff can utilize with a student who appears to be experiencing behavioral health problems.

02 November 2018: “Navigating Difficult Classroom Dialogues: The Election Edition”

Political elections can generate divisive rhetoric. Some people feel empowered even as others feel vulnerable and threatened. That creates a complicated role for instructors, who must balance the supporting roles of educator and mentor while leading challenging and potentially heated discussions. This session will focus on strategies for navigating these challenges and for supporting students and ourselves. With Andrea Follmer Greenhoot, Jennifer Ng, and Meagan Patterson.

18 February 2019: “Workshop: Making Active Learning Accessible”

Active learning can pose many challenges for students with disabilities. That shouldn’t deter instructors from adopting techniques that improve student success, though. In this workshop, we will help instructors develop strategies for making their student-centered classes accessible to everyone. With Andrew Shoemaker, Academic Achievement & Access Center, and Doug Ward, CTE/Journalism.

27 February 2019: “Workshop: Anxiety 101: How Faculty Can Help Reduce Students' Academic Angst”

Instructors certainly can’t solve mental health issues in the classroom, but they can do small things that reduce the burden students feel. In this session, we will look at what makes students anxious, how to approach students who seem to be suffering from anxiety, and where to find tools and resources to help. With Sarah Kirk, Clinical Psychology, and Doug Ward, CTE/Journalism.

News & Notes

See how CTE is leading the shift to flexible teaching at KU.

Visit the Flex Teaching sitewhich provides help for creating flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online.