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Skidmore College
Center for Leadership, Teaching and Learning (CLTL)

Racial Justice Teaching Challenge

Winston Grady-Willis, professor and director of Black Studies, and Beck Krefting, professor in American Studies and CLTL director, are excited to announce the continuation of the Racial Justice Teaching Challenge (RJTC), in tandem with the “Africana Studies and the Humanities at Skidmore: Transnational Explorations of Social Justice” grant from the Mellon Foundation. When folks participated in the RJTC during spring 2021, we had 95 courses (12% of all curricular offerings), and in fall 2021 we had 112 courses (14% of all curricular offerings).  Here’s a list. These numbers represent an incredible level of participation, and we hope to increase those numbers in coming years.

For the most part, the RJTC moving forward is consistent with prior iterations. In addition to documenting courses, we would like to invite those professional staff working on projects or initiatives that fulfill the criteria to add their names and projects to our list. Staff members in a variety of offices are educating students and each other, and we would like to capture and document that work as part of the RJTC. 

RJTC Criteria 

Faculty/staff members commit to devoting a significant portion of educational content (equivalent to several weeks of the semester, even if that is woven into the course throughout the semester) in their courses/projects to focus on:  

  • the lives and experiences of Black folks in North America and/or the African diaspora, and/or
  • substantive engagement with one or more of the following issues: racism/racial justice, racialized systems of power, colonization/decolonization, and intersecting oppressions.   

This can be accomplished in different ways: introducing new modules or assignments, revising readings, inviting guest lecturers, developing a campus-wide initiative, etc. If you haven't already done so, consider consulting with Tang Teaching Museum staff to see how our collections may aid you in these endeavors. They are incredibly helpful, creative, and resourceful. If you wish to do so, please contact Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator Rachel Seligman.

If you find you want some assistance in transitioning your course/project to fit these criteria or if you have any questions or concerns about foregrounding racial justice, please contact Winston Grady-Willis and/or Beck Krefting via email to schedule a meeting.


What to do… 

If you are teaching a course or spearheading a project that you know fulfills these criteria, we invite you to include it in this document. Seriously, if you are doing the work, add your information to the list — it only takes a few seconds. While we hope everyone considers participating in this challenge, we acknowledge that some folks will be unable to commit to this initiative at this time. Rest assured that this will continue in the coming semesters, so you can think ahead for how you might participate in the RJTC. This might mean setting aside time this semester for personal reading and reflection, or it may mean joining a Mellon-funded learning community that helps provide the language, theory, and praxis necessary to participate in the future.

Here are some ways that participating in the challenge can benefit you, the students, and the College:  

  1. Think of it as a first step in converting a course for possible cross-listing in Black Studies. We are able to offer a stipend of $1,000 to faculty who develop a new course for Black Studies in AY 2022-23 and AY 2023-24. 
  2. Consider piloting some content you intend to develop for a possible Bridge Experience course.  
  3. This provides an additional way for faculty to participate in Component III of the Racial Justice Initiative focusing on curricular, co-curricular, and educational projects, and can be included in your Annual Summary of Activities report in Digital Measures.  
  4. Participation might contribute to department/program assessment work around DEI matters or make good on commitments made in DEI assessments conducted last spring.   
  5. Pre- and post-assessment data from prior semesters indicated that participating faculty grew more confident in speaking about racial issues over the course of the semester, and students in those courses increased their knowledge of racial issues.
  6. As with the last two years, we will offer awards (to the tune of $500) to students at the end of the academic year to acknowledge exemplary work completed in participating courses. Please keep track of that work so you can nominate them. 

Again, for the spring, we ask that you signal your participation in the RJTC by adding your name, department/program/office, and courses/projects that fit the parameters of the challenge to the shared Google document no later than Friday, Feb. 3. If any difficulties arise with this, please email either of us and we will add your information for you. We will post the final list soon after that. We look forward to continuing the challenge with you, and we offer huge thanks to all those participating in prior semesters!