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Creating An Engaging & Inclusive Environment (read full series)

What is it?

What is it?

As racial inequities and disparities permeate society, they also appear on campuses, in curricula, and in classrooms.  An anti-racist is defined as: “One who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity” (Kendi, 2019, p. 25)1Implicit in this definition of an anti-racist is the expectation of actually doing something.  Neither inaction nor silence offer pathways to equity.  He suggests, “…the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it – and then dismantle it” (Kendi, 2019, p. 9).



Understanding the characteristics of our learners informs how to strategically plan our courses (Fink, 2013).  Of particular relevance, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) is an inclusive term which highlights the identities and distinction between Black and Indigenous people, in contrast to other People of Color.  On a diverse campus, BIPOCs enrich instructional programs and courses.  Classrooms are not culturally-neutral spaces as “students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door” (Ambrose et al, 2010, p. 169-170).  Creating inclusive spaces within the classroom is a vital anti-racist enterprise that helps to ensure equitable opportunities exist for all students. 



  • 77% of all degree-seeking undergraduate students (with known race/ethnicity) at UCD identified as other than White/Caucasian (UC Davis Student Profile, 2020). 
  • 72% of all US Citizen and Immigrant undergraduate students at UCD identified as BIPOC (UC Davis Student Profile, 2020).

Teaching Strategies

  • Model anti-racist practices and a commitment to dismantling existing patterns of privilege and white supremacy in interactions with your students (e.g., ask students to speak only for themselves, not on behalf of an entire group; design learning activities that are more often cooperative, as opposed to competitive).

  • Design content so that all students might see themselves reflected in the course, to signal that all identities and group membership are valued. 

  • Incorporate diverse points of view through the examples used to explain concepts, through diverse cultural references, and through diverse scholarly perspectives.

  • Prevent micro-aggressions by using micro-affirmations – small acts of support that foster inclusion, listening, comfort, and support for people who may feel isolated or invisible in an environment (e.g., make efforts to use students’ correct names, pronunciations, and pronouns).

  • Respond to a micro-aggression by having students free write about the issue.  This can allow things to calm down and give you some time to re-group.  Clarify what is inappropriate and ask students to reflect on what they could learn from the conversation.



Students say …

Students Say

  • “When professors use diverse readings, videos, and visuals that acknowledge the contributions and experiences of BIPOCs, I feel a sense of pride.”
  • “I appreciate instructors who have high expectations for all of us, and really believe that we can all succeed.”


  • How do you seek to understand the experiences and cultures of BIPOC students in order to plan learning activities that connect to their prior knowledge?
  • In what ways do you invite students to approach you with concerns or ideas for inclusivity?
  • What aspects of your classroom policies (e.g., Grading, Technology Use, Attendance) can you revise to better reflect your commitment to anti-racist teaching?
  • Have you reviewed the Anti-racist Syllabus on the UC Davis Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion site?
  • 1List of all references in the complete JITT Guide.