Celebrating Black History Month, and Black Excellence

Do Our Students See Themselves in Our Courses?

Black History Month is a great opportunity to showcase the work of Black scholars and luminaries in each of our disciplines, from entrepreneurship to engineering, from literature to law. Some colleagues choose Black chemists, poets, doctors, sociologists, etc. whose scholarship they admire and highlight their work, names, and photos in class and online. Others invite students to enrich the course, for example with an assignment where students research Black experts in the field and share what they learn in class. The examples that students find can then be incorporated into the syllabus in future semesters, since, of course, it’s powerful to celebrate and leverage diversity all the time, not just in February.

If you haven’t ever done so, this month is a great time to do a diversity and inclusion audit of your courses. Do you include readings from authors of different ethnicities, nationalities, and cultural traditions? Do the examples of experts you refer to in class and online show all students that people who look or sound like them can be leaders in the field? An important part of creating the conditions for learning is ensuring that all students, including students from under-represented backgrounds, see role models who reflect them.

If you find that a course isn’t yet living up to your ideals, don’t despair. You can start small, and build a deeper syllabus each semester. Most of us were only exposed to Eurocentric curricula as students, so we’re likely to pass those along—but we don’t have to. Librarians and educators are working to build reading lists and other resources that better reflect the diversity of our university and global communities. Thanks to their good work, resources for diversifying your syllabus abound. Here are just a few:

If you have great resources or strategies for diversifying courses, please share them with us! We look forward to hearing from you.


The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) offers a wealth of resources that are free to us, since FSU is an AACU member. Next week, February 18 at 4:00, they offer a webinar:

Challenging the Normalization of Hate: Strategies for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Webinar

How can Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) inform strategies to address the increasing normalization of hate within our communities? Given the power of the internet and social media for spreading white supremacist thought, Jessie Daniels, the author of Cyber Racism, will share strategies for countering the spread of racist ideology. Panelists from three TRHT Campus Centers—Jermaine Pearson (Brown University), Charmaine DM Royal (Duke University), and J. Goosby Smith (The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina)—will also discuss how the TRHT Framework can bring about radical change, through storytelling, active listening, and community-engaged work.

There will be time for Q&A during the webinar. Please send all webinar queries to both webinars@aacu.org and support@aacu.org. The webinar will be recorded, and the recording will be available online a few weeks after the webinar.

Assignment Design Workshop at CAT

Friday, February 21st | 10:00 – 12:00 | DIF 432 | Sign up to attend

For support in crafting assignments—projects, papers, exercises, experiences, etc.—that engage students in the kinds of thinking you’d like for them to do, and that help them to produce the kinds of work you’d like to see, please sign up for this hands-on workshop. We can help you revise existing assignments or devise new ones, and we will share resources for describing assignments in ways that are transparent for your students.