Photo by Julia Rendleman, University Marketing.

Inclusive Excellence launches three new initiatives for VCU students, faculty and staff members

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Division for Inclusive Excellence is launching three new initiatives to engage the university community’s interests in social justice and inclusion.

The development of the VCU Student Social Justice Fund, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Symposium and Curriculum Development Awards is aimed at creating a more inclusive environment, not only in university classrooms, but in the university’s programming, said Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves, Ph.D., associate vice president for Inclusive Excellence.

The VCU Student Social Justice Fund aims to support proposals that conceptualize solutions to social justice challenges facing the university, local, national or international communities. The Division for Inclusive Excellence will sponsor up to four student teams, supported by a faculty or staff member, with an award of $2,500 each to execute their creative ideas. Teams can include both undergraduate and graduate students. Applications are due by April 20.

We’re hoping that the students really get a chance to see the power that they have to be able to affect change.

Corey Boone, assistant director in the Office of Events and Special Programs, is an Inclusive Excellence fellow. He facilitates the VCU Student Social Justice Fund.

“The Student Social Justice Fund came out of expressed interest and intrigue into social justice issues in the local community and in the campus community by our students,” Boone said. “We’re hoping that the students really get a chance to see the power that they have to be able to affect change, work on how to find innovative solutions to problems and go through the discovery and experience of implementing those solutions.”

Teams selected for the Student Social Justice Fund will work on their projects throughout summer and fall 2017 and present their final results in spring 2018.

The Equity and Inclusion Leadership Symposium is a one-day professional development forum to be held Aug. 18 and is designed by and for members of the VCU community to examine and engage around emerging and challenging topics in diversity, inclusion, equity and access. VCU faculty and staff members are invited to submit presentations in any of the following formats: papers, workshops, panels, roundtables, performances that address one or more of the core symposium themes. Applications are due May 1.

Austin Higgs, operations coordinator for Equity and Access Services, is an Inclusive Excellence fellow. They facilitate the Equity and Inclusion Leadership Symposium.

“I wanted it to be an event that leaves the community feeling energized and ready to take action, as well as leaving there with the tools that they need to facilitate their newfound momentum,” Higgs said. “[On] the other side of it, I wanted this to be a form of professional development for those that are presenting.”

The Curriculum Development Awards was developed in response to VCU students and faculty needs for the continued development of courses and classroom learning experiences that are inclusive, both in content and in strategy. The division will award four curricular development awards of up to $10,000 each for courses offered during the 2017–18 academic year.

These awards will allow departments to submit proposals to strengthen a minimum of three graduate and/or undergraduate courses with respect to diversity and inclusion. The awards are for the review, revision, development and enhancement of core curricular courses. All full-time VCU faculty members are eligible to apply. Proposals are due May 1.

“As we look to build a more inclusive university, we think about different ways in which our community engages with each other,” said Hargraves, who facilitates the Curriculum Development Awards. “Learning is another part of the core of our mission. [These initiatives] help foster learning and growth.”


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