Racial Equity & Diversity

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) should always be the goal of teaching at Seattle Colleges and creating spaces inclusive of all students including students of color, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, low-income students, and undocumented and first-generation Americans. We also must recognize that in our efforts for diversity and inclusion students fall into intersectional identities, meaning they can carry multiple oppressions with them at the same time. 

Critical pedagogy advocates and offers solutions to focus on DEI in the classroom. The central arguments of critical pedagogy are that we focus on students as co-learners, meaning that the process of teaching is a conversation rather than a top-down approach. Giving students choices in materials to engage with, having them bring in their experience and communities into the classroom, and allowing for assessment that builds on their personal goals, are all ways to build in critical pedagogy into your own teaching. The core of critical pedagogy is the work of Paulo Freire, specifically his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which is available here in English or in its original Portuguese here. Broadly speaking using Universal Design principles, incorporating authentic assessment strategies, incorporating diverse representation of the field, and scholarship engaged in the course, are areas to get started for ways to increase DEI in a course. Instructional designers can work with you to review your courses for DEI. 

In a step further toward better inclusion for all students, we also advocate for anti-racist practices in teaching, which specifically address the systematic racism that exists in our classrooms. Being anti-racist to put it simply is the opposite of being racist. Rather than thinking about yourself or teaching being “not racist”, anti-racism argues being not racist is impossible because of the privileges that exist for certain people and the systematic racism and oppression that exists in all institutions. Being anti-racist is holistic and cannot be solved simply by making a few minor changes. Anti-racist work requires considering the big picture of your teaching style and materials. It also requires the recognition that you cannot change the institution nor society, but in the classroom, you are able to make changes that push us toward being anti-racist as an institution. To learn more about anti-racism and for key resources, we suggest this TED Talk by Ibram X. Kendi the author of How to be an Antiracist. For where to start as an educator we suggest this resource from Wheaton College.  

Equitable Pedagogies 


Making norms and expectations explicit enhances students’ learning according to multiple studies and implementation projects. Positive impacts are especially pronounced for first-generation and other students whose cultures differ from the institution’s (middle-class, euro-centric).  


  • Revise or create instructional materials from a novice’s point of view, explicitly stating an assignment's purpose, sequence of steps, and evaluation criteria. Feedback from colleagues in other disciplines can be helpful for increasing clarity.  
  • Link an assignment’s overall purpose and specific outcomes to students’ long-term goals. 


Seeing their identities reflected in course materials increases students’ engagement, sense of belonging, confidence, and other predictors of academic success (Barry; Gay; Mustapha and Mills). Trying on roles associated with power and authority, such as teaching, leading, and facilitating, supports students’ aspirations. Seeing students with different identities in leadership roles also reduces bias in the classroom.


  • Diversify text selections, discipline-specific ‘heroes’ and role models, discussion examples, racial, gender, and cultural representation in images, names, and examples.
  • Practice reciprocal teaching: facilitate opportunities for students to teach each other and you. 


For students whose cultures and/or race differ from the institution’s (euro-centric, middle class), attending college involves additional cognitive labor as well as psychological stress. Reducing this cognitive burden frees up bandwidth for learning. Culture here is primarily defined as worldview, language, priorities, values, and definitions of a successful life. Culturally responsive teaching treats differences as assets, which increases student engagement and achievement (Gay).  


  • Prompt students to articulate their core values and explicitly connect them to their academic and career goals
  • Adjust own thinking and actively demonstrate respect for students’ values and definitions of lifelong success
  • Provide options within assignments to perform select tasks in native languages and/or to incorporate cultural practices
  • Notice nuances of own racial bias and seek out experiences that destabilize bias.
  • Encourage students to make choices in course content or assessment methods based on their experiences, backgrounds, values, etc.

Learn More


Barry, Arlene L. "Hispanic Representation in Literature for Children and Young Adults." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 41, no. 8, 1998, pp. 630–637. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40016960. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.

Carroll, G. "Mundane Extreme Environmental Stress and African American Families: A Case for Recognizing Different Realities." Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol. 29, no. 2, 1998, pp. 271-284.

Gay, Geneva. Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. 3rd ed., New York, NY, Teachers College Press, 2018.

Mustapha, Abolaji S., and Sara Mills. Gender Representation in Learning Materials: International Perspectives. Google Books, Routledge, 11 Aug. 2015, Link. Accessed 12 Sept. 2023.

"TILT Higher Ed Examples and Resources." TILT Higher Ed Examples and Resources. Link.

Verschelden, Cia. "Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization." Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, Taylor and Francis, July 2018, doi:10.1080/19496591.2018.1470007.

Winkelmes, Mary-Ann, et al. "A Teaching Intervention That Increases Underserved College Students’ Success." Peer Review: Emerging Trends and Key Debates in Undergraduate Education, vol. 18, no. 1-2, 2016, pp. 31-36.

Yosso, Tara J. “Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth.” Race Ethnicity and Education, vol. 8, no. 1, 23 Aug. 2005, pp. 69–91, https://doi.org/10.1080/1361332052000341006.