Creating an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community | Albright College

Creating an Inclusive, Thriving and Equitable Community

Join us at upcoming events and be part of the change

We recognize that inclusivity and equity will be ongoing. As evidenced by the work above, this is a long-term goal that we must recommit ourselves to year after year.  This is also evident in our 2030 Strategic Vision.  Whether you are a faculty, staff, student, alumni, or prospective community member, there will always be ways for you to learn more and get involved.


Educated by Tara Westover Summer 2021

“Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.”


Ongoing DEI Efforts at Albright: What we’ve accomplished so far

As Albright College places more emphasis on becoming an inclusive, thriving, and equitable community, more opportunities are being made available for students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni to learn and grow.

Upcoming Events

Trainings

  • Whites Confronting Racism Jan 12-14, 2021
  • Whites Confronting Racism Sept 11-13, 2020
  • Whites Confronting Racism Aug 7-9, 2020
  • LGBTQ 101 Feb 4; Feb 6, 2020
  • LGBTQ 101 Dec 3; Dec 10, 2019

Reading Groups
Heavy by Keise Laymon

So very glad I had a reason to read this book! I read too fast and the language of this wonderful book forced me to slow down, as if I read too fast, I would miss details of the “plot”, details of his life that he snuck into corners and crevices of every paragraph. The language is beautiful, the story painful. For me, there was particular resonance as I am a parent of three grown children and often wonder what they think of my parenting, of their experience as my children. Layton is writing to his mother, but also to America, and his experience of being an overweight black male son of a single mother who is herself challenging all kinds of stereotypes by achieving a Ph.D. coming from Jackson Mississippi is one of the richer and more painful reading experiences I have ever had. I am trying to think about how to incorporate it into my FYS!
–Julia Heberle, Associate Professor of Psychology-

Layman brilliantly wrote Heavy, a memoir that encompassed a myriad of themes: growing up black in the South, living with a “tough love” Mom who was preparing him for life as an intelligent black man who will face a difficult road to acceptance, as he experienced life through the lens of his peers from youth to young adult. The novel’s title, Heavy, has layers of meanings, starting in his struggle with food disorders, which began in his youth and continued throughout his life, to the emotional and social burden of navigating the world as a black man. The heaviness included his complex relationship with his mother and his dealings with racism throughout his life. Participating in the book club helped me see more facets of Layman’s complex rite of passage to adulthood, especially living in academe as a young black man. I felt a sadness when I finished reading the book. However, the members in our book sessions helped me feel a more realistic, not necessarily sad, story that Layman is recounting in his journey.
–Denise Meister, Associate Professor of Education-

How to Be Anti-Racist

Among other topics, this book helped me gain insights into how we talk about language usage across cultures and race, and I plan on sharing and discussing the “Culture” chapter with Writing Center tutors as we work to make the writing center a truly inclusive environment.
-Rachel Liberatore, Writing Center Director and English Instructor-

This book came out a week before the first day of classes Fall 2019, and it proved to be the most useful conversation-starter in my hip-hop FYS that semester. Each chapter addresses succinctly (~10 pages) core concepts in critical race theory from a range of disciplinary perspectives, explained through the author’s deeply personal life story. This book allowed me to make connections in class to a range of academic, literary, and artistic people and ideas from the work of W.E.B DuBois’ to misogyny in hip-hop, eugenics and scientific racism, and the history of the transatlantic slave trade.
– Mike D’Errico, Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Music Technology & Composition-

Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist is a powerful antidote to the lethargy that any of us can slide into whenever issues of systemic racism are not front and center in the public eye. It’s a reminder of the tragic consequences of founding our nation without eliminating the institution of slavery and the unimaginable toll that has taken on our collective national soul. It strengthened my resolve to hold our nation accountable to its own principles until the day when truly all humans are treated equally under the law. It made me thankful to be part of an Albright community that works to train future citizens with a deep commitment to justice and equity.
–Rev. Dr. Melvin Sensenig, Interim Chaplain, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Religious Studies-

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

I won’t lie – the Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace was not my favorite book. I was frustrated by the seeming waste of intelligence and resources Robert Peace’s life illustrates; however, this is just the point. Exposure to the life of a gifted young man whose family was constantly working to overcome systemic racism was thought-provoking. In our discussion, we explored how faculty and staff have been acculturated to a “typical” Albright student and how we must open our eyes to the challenges our 21st century students face and be prepared to truly advocate for them, support them, and learn from them.
– Dawn Gieringer ’10, Coordinator of Alumni and Donor Engagement-

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace brought home to me again through personal narrative the sadness of a life with lots of promise that ended tragically.and which did not have to do so. It helped me reflect again on the systemic problems in our communities that can make it hard to leave an old life behind. It strengthened my resolve to not only work for justice and peace, but to look for those individuals at risk of not fulfilling their promise and finding ways to reach out and support them in their journeys. It made me thankful to be part of our Albright community that addresses that issue head on.
–Rev. Dr. Melvin Sensenig, Interim Chaplain, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Religious Studies-

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want to Talk about Race opened an honest, frank dialogue like no other book in my experience has done. Ijeoma Oluo’s approach is pragmatic and organized, while boldly addressing topics that were previously glossed over in our society; in turn, the book discussion allowed Albright colleagues from various disciplines and perspective to share their personal and professional experiences which were eye-opening and, at times, revelatory.
– Dawn Gieringer ’10, Coordinator of Alumni and Donor Engagement-

My participation in the So You Want to Talk About Race book discussion, was to say the least, enlightening. Enlightening for me based solely on how my fellow Albrightians responded to some of the stories I and others in the group of African descent shared. Blacks live in a world of inequity, racism and oppression every day and almost everywhere. Sometimes our armor can shield us as intended from the bad but it also blinds us to some of the good. It was important and effective for me to hear whites express their complete and genuine bewilderment to the microaggressions, attitudes and undesirable acts and reactions blacks encounter. I consider that experience the beginning of a long hard road we all are traveling. Thank you for initiating the discussion.
-Leonette Stocker, Business and Data Analyst-

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I found myself at a crossroads having volunteered to teach our First Year Seminar for the first time, at a time when Albright experienced some very serious episodes of racist behavior involving our students and our staff. I had not read Coates’ book, but knew I needed to do something in the format I know best, teaching. I was happy that events conspired to bring a group of faculty together who were interested in adopting Coates’ book for a common reading across the college. I am finishing my third time of teaching the course, with Coates incorporated. His letter to his son, and to all of us, permits me to discuss both current events and history, in the context of our course’s theme “What does it mean to be human”. He speaks to all of us, calling for change, for understanding, for reparation. The reading challenges my students, not only for the ideas within, but for the speed with which Coates’ moves from topic to topic, time frame to time frame. His story of growing and changing self-awareness is appropriate for all college students to consider. I intend to keep it as a permanent piece of my course.
–Julia Heberle, Associate Professor of Psychology-

I adopted “Between the World and Me” for my First Year Seminar to reinforce ideas presented in my emotional intelligence projects. This book effectively integrates with my other text, “The Relentless Pursuit of Tone” in the critique of contemporary media by creating commentary on race, gender, politics, and socioeconomics. The pairing of these texts have encouraged students to understand the intersection of tone as a proxy for race and gender, allowing them to look beyond their past to answer the question of why they do, what they do. –AJ Merlino, Associate Dean of Student Professional Development & Experiential Learning and Director of Music Industry Studies-
Ta-Nehisi Coates says that hip-hop is one of his biggest aesthetic influences. This made Between the World and Me a perfect choice for my FYS on the cultural politics of hip-hop. The book blends so many elements of the liberal arts model into a compelling narrative that’s challenging, engaging, and liberating for both the students and the instructor. This is a key text for those who want to introduce students in the hip-hop generation to the radical potential of a liberal arts education.
– Mike D’Errico, Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Music Technology & Composition-


Experience Events

  • The African Roots of Western Culture Part 1 of 3 Thursday, February 25 4:00pm
  • Race and Sport in the World Around Us Mon Feb 22, 4-5pm
  • Stonewall Era Art, the rise of Queer Visibility, Abstract Expressionists, and Popular Cultural Changes with Liz Bradbury March 4, 2020
  • Black History Month Celebration February 3, 2020
  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (theatre production) November 2019
  • I Dreamed a Dream: Immigrant Youth Education, Opportunities, and Obstacles with Greater Reading Immigration Project and Pennsylvania Immigration Citizenship Coalition October 15, 2019
  • Las Madres de Berks with Michelle Angela Ortiz, Director Oct 7 2019
  • Exploring Social Justice in the Misinformation Age Sept 2019
  • Raisin in the Sun (Theatre Production) November 2018
  • Mosaic (Theatre Production) September 2018

Race Discussion Panels

  • Students Talking About Race Mon March 1 4-5pm
  • Racial Healing and Reconciliation Community Panel Discussion Dec 7, 2020
  • Students Talking About Race Nov 13, 2020
  • Racial Healing and Reconciliation Community Panel Discussion Oct 12, 2020
  • Students Talking About Race Oct 9, 2020
  • Racial Healing and Reconciliation Community Panel Discussion Sept 21, 2020
  • Racial Healing and Reconciliation Community Panel Discussion June 12, 2020

English Department
One of our department’s official four objectives is: “Students will understand the role of social privilege and marginalization in its various modes of textual expression in regards to gender, race and/or class divisions.” We strive to include varied viewpoints, especially from underrepresented groups, in most of our classes, but it is easiest to point out classes whose titles make clear such connections, such as Teresa’s upper-level courses on Toni Morrison and the Harlem Renaissance, or her First-Year Seminar on Black Lives Matter. Denise, meanwhile, is currently teaching a 200-level course on Latin American authors, and frequently teaches a popular course on women comics. Perhaps less obvious: Lesley’s course on Middlemarch focuses on the masterpiece of one of the 19th century’s leading authors, who also happens to be a woman: George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Ann Evans.


Theatre Department
We tell stories in the theatre. It is our duty to begin to tell more stories that will help our community learn, spark conversation, and lead us to create an anti-racist world. We have committed to including more diverse voices in our classrooms, in our curriculum, in our rehearsal rooms, and in our productions.
As a starting point, our Senior Seminar course in the Fall of 2020 exclusively featured plays by Black writers, and our first mainstage production—C’mon America, or, Hindsight is 2020—was written by a diverse group of students about the current social, political, and cultural climate. In order to sustain this work beyond a single semester and to truly understand where we have been and where we want to go, we have intentionally collected data from the past three academic years to assess what texts/readings/plays/theorists we are assigning to our students across our courses (and who we are not assigning). Similarly, we have compiled a data set from our last ten years of productions to understand what plays and playwrights we are producing, and of course, what and who we are not. This work will help us to create more transparent season selection guidelines and course reading/assignment process.
We are simultaneously working to make our Department more equitable and inclusive. We have begun by instituting a weekly Theatre Department Common Hour, which is required of all majors, co-majors, and minors, and functions as part of the 4th Hour for our current classes. The Common Hour allows us the opportunity to speak to and with our entire student body about news, issues, and opportunities, as well as explore together how we can create a better Department. During this time of COVID, it has also allowed us to invite alumni guest speakers to interact with and speak to our current students. The Common Hour has also allowed us to involve students in the complex process of de-colonizing our pedagogical and artistic practices- most notably in selecting a diverse season of plays for the coming academic year.
In conjunction with the Common Hour, we have begun to put together a series of guides/templates/information sheets about our Department and our procedures and expectations that are accessible via our Departmental Canvas page (all current Theatre students are enrolled). It is quite easy to slip into “we’ve always done it this way,” or to assume everyone knows how everything works, when quite often the opposite is true. Our first guide is a Writing Style PDF that outlines writing expectations and best practices in our discipline. It likewise contains a glossary of common terms in the discipline.
We have since created an Audition Primer, which outlines 10 steps to successfully audition for productions at Albright College. Again, one thing we have learned is that so much of what we the faculty assume is common knowledge and “policy” is more akin to folklore passed between students. We have plans for clearer guidelines/information about the various roles and responsibilities of our production program (for instance, what is a dramaturg? What do they do? How do I do that at Albright? Who do I contact? Etc.) and formalizing how students can get involved in all of the various aspects of theatre beyond acting.
These are only a starting point. We have a lot of work to do. We will continue to evolve and add new initiatives and goals as we move forward.


Music Department
In recent years, conversations within academic music communities have centered on how departments might restructure curriculum and teaching methods so as to acknowledge, but also escape, the historical legacy of racism and colonialism in music studies. In the Music Department at Albright, we’ve added new courses and revised our pedagogical foci to ensure our commitment to anti-racism and decolonialization. The African American Music minor highlights our curricular focus on black music from around the world, introducing new courses such as MUS121 Black Popular Music, MUS221 Afrofuturism, and SYN387 Improvisation, and including courses on black history and literary traditions from Albright’s English, History, and Religious Studies programs. In First-Year Seminars taught by MUS faculty (FYS100 The Cultural Politics of Hip-Hop, FYS100 The History of the Recording Industry), we’ve incorporated shared readings such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Ibram Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist to ensure students understand the inherent connections between American racism and the music industry. Other courses in music history, theory, and culture have been added (LAS201 Latin American Music) or revised (MUS120, MUS211/212) to focus on global musical traditions outside of the Western European classical music style.
In addition to general education offerings, we’ve added new performing ensembles that showcase black musical traditions including MUS103B Commercial Music Ensemble, MUS103C Jazz Combos, MUS103D Rap Collective, and MUS105C Gospel Ensemble. Further, the repertoire in the music technology and composition area of our Music Industry Studies major continues to focus on musical techniques and repertoire from black popular musical traditions, as our students learn to write songs, make beats, and produce recordings in hip-hop, R&B, and global dance music genres. These curricular changes are mirrored by the interdisciplinary collaborations of our faculty members, which include work with the Theatre Department on their 2018 production of the social justice piece Mosaic, as well as an upcoming conference on Afrofuturism and Environmental Studies.

Immigration and Transnational Families, Sociology, Dr Beth KiesterBoth the study of immigration and the questions that study raises are at the very root of social science. These studies also suggest that immigration is rapidly changing the structure of the family unit through the creation of transnational families. In this seminar, we will survey the literature that gives evidence of the major concepts and questions in immigration studies as well as a variety of case studies that will bring to life the lived experiences of migrant workers, their families, and in particular, their children.This course will insist that immigration is central to US history because of its permanent historical and social imprint on the country as well as the current and future demographic impacts that we are witnessing on both a national and global scale. We will begin with a basic foundation of “what is immigration” and a history of immigration policy in the US. Next, we will examine the impact of immigration on families and the resulting transnational families and global care chains inadvertently created. When it comes to the impact of migration on children, we will examine the impact on children when they are left behind, when they try to immigrate alone, and when they are born in the US to an undocumented parent(s).


Ongoing DEI Efforts at Albright: Creating a groundwork for honesty and accountability

Albright College is recognized as one of the Top Performers on Social Mobility and Most Diverse Colleges in Pennsylvania. The work of identifying and implementing ways to build an increasingly equitable and inclusive learning community is ongoing. This work happens at every level- from institutional assessment conducted by the Office of the President, to curricular review within academic departments, to individual engagement with the many programs and initiatives provided by the College and the Council for a Thriving and Equitable Community (CITE-C)  to educate and empower students, faculty, and staff.

This work, and the work to come, has been informed by not only our goals moving forward, but by honest assessment of the history of our institution and Albright College’s Core Values. Albright College is moving forward with a Strategic Plan that puts these values into practice.