CIC Grant Funds Development of DEI Curriculum

February 1, 2023

St. John Fisher University has received a $5,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), to focus on the development and implementation of a curriculum within the School of Arts and Sciences focusing on interfaith aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This grant will feature the work of Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, as well as the University’s participation in CIC’s Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute in summer 2018. Now, three years into the implementation of the new Core curriculum, the University will highlight Dr. Patel’s work in interfaith diversity in a pilot program.

The grant specifically notes Patel’s new book, We Need To Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy, and how it aligns with Fisher Outcomes surrounding diversity and civic engagement, as well as the University’s strong Basilian roots as a historically Catholic college. The plan to implement this grant is two-fold: to weave Patel’s work into the foundation of Core classes at Fisher, and to work to bring him to campus. Both of these objectives are part of a goal to facilitate meaningful engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion among first-year students beginning their studies at Fisher.

Winter 2023 marks the beginning of activities related to the grant, which will include two “lunch and learn” workshops where faculty members will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from Patel’s works, including “Is Your Campus Diverse? It’s a Question of Faith” and “Colleges Should Be Nurturing Interfaith Leaders.”

Two members of the University faculty have been chosen to lead the efforts. Dr. Barbara Lowe, associate professor of philosophy, and Dr. Jebaroja Singh, visiting assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, will facilitate a Learning Circle to be launched in May. Drawing on experience and knowledge gained from participating in CIC’s Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute, Singh and Lowe will facilitate faculty dialogue and support faculty efforts in designing class activities and assignments for their learning community classes.  These efforts will support the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion learning outcome, one of five outcomes addressed by learning communities in the first semester of the University’s Core Curriculum.   The final component of the grant involves inviting Patel to campus in the coming academic year.

Measuring the impact and success of the efforts will involve a survey taken by participating faculty and students. The data gathered will be assessed by Dr. Cathy Sweet, assistant dean of administration and assessment in the School of Arts and Sciences, “to determine how ongoing training and discussion across campus should and will continue for the future.”

The University’s efforts throughout the process of the grant’s implementation will be overseen by Dr. Matha Thornton, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, along with Dr. Ann Marie Fallon, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Together, Fallon and Thornton bring a wealth of valuable experience to ensure Fisher’s continued commitment toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus and learning community.

This article was written by Tyler Cole ’23, a cybersecurity major and PR Writing Intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.