First Valencia SEED Cohort Underway to Promote Educational Equity and Diversity

seed-logo-270wSEED, or Seeding Educational Equity and Diversity, is an international project founded 27 years ago by Dr. Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College. It utilizes a cohort-based monthly seminar model with the intention of creating gender-fair, multiculturally equitable and globally informed educational spaces and workplaces. The monthly seminars deepen participants’ understanding of themselves, expand their knowledge of the world and point the way to making schools more inclusive.

SEED differs from other diversity programs in that its leaders do not lecture; instead they lead their own colleagues in experiential, interactive exercises and conversation often stimulated by films and readings.

Over the past six months, Valencia College has become increasingly involved with the SEED project. The project launched in July with Valencia’s Michele Lima, professor speech, Rachel Luce-Hitt, coordinator, diversity and inclusion, and Rachel Allen, professor, humanities attending an intensive SEED new leaders’ train-the-trainer workshop in California with approximately 40 educators from around the world. Michele Lima and Rachel Luce-Hitt are now serving as Valencia’s SEED leaders and Rachel Allen, joined by Hank Van Putten, adjunct professor, student life skills, are serving as SEED small group facilitators.

Valencia’s first Valencia SEED cohort began in the fall semester with 29 faculty and staff members. The cohort met in  September and an October seminar on East Campus, in November on Osceola Campus, and in October, Peggy McIntosh visited the East and the West campuses and met with more than 200 people to teach and discuss her ideas on educational equity and diversity. Topics covered during the first cohort have included:

  • Name Sharing – All participants looked into how and why they were given their names. Is there meaning behind it? Is there familial history or connection with it? What was the experience like growing up with that name?
  • Windows and Mirrors – From the work of SEED Co-Director, Emily Style, SEED, co-director, the SEED group was introduced to the concept of windows and mirrors. Everything we do/see can act as a window into the experience of someone else, or as a mirror reflecting back our own experience. The group explored how windows and mirrors, or the lack of one or the other, affects the learning and working environment.
  • Multicultural Identity – We are all diverse beings and we self-identify in many different ways. SEED participants explored the different parts of themselves that make them whole.
  • White Privilege – Through film, readings and dialogue, participants looked at privilege through a wider, more systemic lens, challenging notions that racism (and other “-isms”) are a thing of the past.

The first cohort will meet four more times during the spring semester. The next cohort will begin in fall 2014, and due to the overwhelming interest to participate, will include a new application process to ensure a group of enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse participants in the most equitable way possible.

For more information about the National SEED Project, please visit the SEED website. For more information about Valencia’s involvement, contact Rachel Luce-Hitt at rluce@valenciacollege.edu or extension 8081.

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