Imagine 2022 Update: Strengthening Intercultural Awareness in the Classroom – Asbury University
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Imagine 2022 Update: Strengthening Intercultural Awareness in the Classroom

April 19, 2018

Students in a classroomApril 19, 2018

Recognizing that the Kingdom of God is diverse, Asbury University is working to make that a fuller reality on campus and in the classroom through Imagine 2022: Asbury’s Vision for Faithful Change.

Imagine 2022 is a statement of strategic priorities that will guide the University’s vision for the next five years, remaining faithful to the Asbury mission while following God’s call to serve the next generations. Read more about Imagine 2022: Asbury’s Vision for Faithful Change.

As part of the third initiative of Imagine 2022 — “Embrace” — the University has rolled out action steps through the Intercultural Development and Awareness Committee (IDAC) that, according to Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Nick Placido, will create a campus environment that more fully embraces the diversity of the kingdom and the University’s Wesleyan heritage.

Initiative III: “Embrace” was set in place to “cultivate a culturally responsible Christian community that practices hospitality, mutuality, redemptive social action and grace-filled reconciliation.”

“The first driver in why to do it is that the kingdom of God is diverse and, as part of the heritage of the institution, Wesley,” Placido said. “Wesley was very big on reaching out to the underserved. He had many ministries regarding that. It’s part of our theology and part of our heritage. If we are trying to be that place and draw more people from diverse ethnic, racial, denominational places, then we need to increasingly be able to do this better.”

Placido has been working as the Chair of the IDAC, which focuses primarily on Point C of “Embrace.”

The goal of Point C is to “develop and maintain a conducive environment for experienced equity.” Placido and the IDAC are working specifically on the subpoints of practicing culturally responsive pedagogy and assessing and developing analytics for under-represented populations. They are hoping to accomplish these goals through programming that will help educate faculty on intercultural subjects.

Though the IDAC just began work on its Imagine 2022 initiatives in the fall 2017 semester, they’ve already set several new programs in motion in order to cultivate a more culturally responsive pedagogical environment. Among these new programs is reverse mentoring in which a student of color will regularly meet one-on-one with a faculty member to educate them on the experiences of being a minority in the university setting.

The committee has also implemented panel discussions for faculty where, during a lunch, they hear from a group of minority students. After the panel, faculty can ask questions of the students. Additionally, they’ll host workshops to give faculty hands-on experience in intercultural pedagogy. Currently, the committee is in the process of creating five different workshops to use over the next three years, which will then be recycled in the future.

The first student panel took place in March 2018 and there are plans to hold one each semester.

In addition, Placido and the committee will submit an annual white paper or letter to the faculty addressing current intercultural issues and statistics on campus. They’ve also given feedback around course evaluations to include more intercultural content.

“As faculty, whoever God puts in the classroom is there for a reason so I need to help my fellow faculty and others prepare [for] that,” Placido said. “Plus, the other thing I don’t think we’ve done really well, in the United States right now, is we’re not really good at talking to one another. If we can create places of conversation like the student panel or the reverse mentoring, I think maybe that’s a little counter-cultural right now and maybe that’s a good thing.”

Placido notes that these programs are still in the developing stages and will most likely evolve over time, as feedback is given.

“Right now, we’re asking more questions than we’re answering but that’s okay because at least we’re asking the questions,” Placido said. “For us, I don’t think it’s just race or ethnicity or gender. I think it’s also that this Wesleyan-tradition college is attracting people who are Catholic and Mennonite and other faith traditions. So, there’s a bit of talking around those areas too. How do we create conversations around all of [that]?”

The IDAC is just one of a few committees that are working on Initiative III, with another group focused on creating a theological statement on diversity for the University and another that is working to develop and enhance student initiatives regarding diversity awareness and understanding.

To learn more about Imagine 2022: Asbury’s Vision for Faithful Change, and to read the strategic priorities in full, visit: