Curriculum & BIPOC Student Retention

BSU convocation picture with word Curriculum and BIPOC student Retention
This section of the 20 demands encompasses 3 demands addressing the overall Curriculum & BIPOC Student Retention. This page will continue to be updated.

1. Enhancing the social justice component of Collegiate Seminar by shifting from a socratic discussion to a difficult dialogue model. 

This request from the BLM working group clearly speaks to a need for more clarity around what the discussion model is for Seminar.  To this end, since 2018, we have been offering mandatory FYAC (First Year Advising Cohort) workshops each spring for first year students in Seminar 1.  In this workshop, which has gone through many iterations, we 1. Read the Seminar Mission Statement; 2. Read and examine the RAPS model for difficult dialogues from the Social Justice Training Institute, and 3. Read and process some passages from Seminar texts that themselves raise ideas that could potentially interfere with dialogue because they speak about issues by singling out people or groups: we look at how to process moments like this in the text in small groups in the workshop, and ask groups to use the Seminar Mission Statement principles and the RAPS model to suggest strategies for dialogue that are respectful and empathetic, and to report out on what they find.

Fall 2021: The next phase in this process is to bring this training to new faculty in a more explicit way.  We are expanding the training for new faculty by increasing the required amount of training (instead of taking two required workshops and two more of your choice, we’ll require 5-6 meetings where consistent material is presented, and by offering a stipend for completing the training).  Potential Topics include:  1. What is Seminar? Structure, Texts, Pedagogy. 2. How to Structure Major Writing Assignments and grade them: writing as thinking and process; 3. How to Use Informal Writing and Reflective Writing to Support Student Learning; 4. Seminar Discussion Strategies 1:  Literature Circles and Empathy-Based Classroom Agreements; 5. Evaluating Seminar Discussion (questions model; coding model; labor log model); 6. Seminar Discussion Strategies Using the Difficult Dialogues Strategies).

2.  Making ethnic studies a graduation requirement, and increasing the diversity of staff, faculty, and curricular materials to reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and the world.

The main issue related to the BLM movement and the Core Curriculum was the requested addition of an Ethnic Studies requirement to the Core requirements that would build on the ES requirement across high schools in California. To address this issue, members of the CCC met with two members of the Ethnic Studies Department on August 31, 2020 and we concluded that adding another requirement to the already bloated Core at this time was not prudent. Instead we collectively decided to work on modifying the American Diversity requirement to capture the types of learning outcomes articulated by the ES department in the meeting. Subsequently, the following language was added to the Core Curriculum Program Review (a document submitted to the Academic Senate in Fall, 2020 that reviewed the current Core structure and outlined several recommendations to improve the Core at SMC):

Based on information supplied by the ES faculty and a proposal to move forward with an Ethnic Studies requirement that builds on the High School Ethnic Studies requirement in California, the AD learning outcomes could be rewritten to reflect less of a diversity model and more of a non-hegemonic model:

1. Analyze aspects of social diversity (e.g., ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and ability, and how they create privileged and oppressed groups in the United States of America; and 

2. Explain how social categories and structures of power may affect the human person, taking an explicitly anti-oppressive stance.

3. Engage with a theoretical framework for understanding power and oppression.

The CCC is currently waiting Senate approval to act on the recommendations outlined in the Program Review document. While waiting for the green light, we recently came across language in the Core Curriculum Learning Outcomes at another institution that could help. Modifying the American Diversity requirement into a requirement that studies “Race, Gender, and Power” appears to be consistent with the aims of the Ethnic Studies proposal. Thus, the Ethnic Studies Department representatives are invited to meet with the CCC again April 7th  to discuss the validity of the modifications and perhaps a timeline for moving in this direction.

3. St. Mary’s to fulfill its commitment to the End the Silence campaign, outlined by the President on May 13, 2016: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/response-to-end-the-silence