College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Taking action on student input to make Ed Psych more welcoming, affirming, and inclusive

The Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota aims to be a welcoming and affirming place where all students (and department members)—Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander students, Black students, Indigenous students, students of color, LGBTQI*A+ students, international students, students with disabilities, students with intersecting identities, and other students representing diverse groups—feel supported to attain and exceed their expectations. We know we have work to do to make this department a more welcoming and affirming place. We understand that statements and invitations for dialogue are not enough.

We must take action, to make effective changes, and to do so in a democratic, open, and transparent manner. To this end in spring of 2021, we designed a three-part process for communally deciding shared goals and problems, communicating planned action steps, and checking in on our progress.

Town Hall Part 1 served as a space exclusively for students to openly discuss ways in which our department can enact meaningful changes to improve campus climate for our Asian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and BIPOC students. 

Town Hall Part 2 gave faculty an opportunity to communicate with students to determine how we will address these concerns, and what initiatives we will organize in the next year to improve climate for all BIPOC students.

The following action plan, based on student feedback during the Town Halls Part 1 and 2, we outlined efforts and initiatives in which members of the Educational Psychology Department would contribute towards over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year to make the department a more welcoming, affirming, and inclusive place.

In the fall of 2021, we hosted an asynchronous Town Hall 3, an opportunity to both reflect and report back on our progress related to the six identified action steps below. We know that for change to take place, we need to hold ourselves accountable to the action steps identified. As part of Town Hall 3, we also surveyed students in the department to get feedback on our progress and help us consider next steps as a department. Watch Town Hall 3.

Action Step 1: Develop a resource to guide faculty/staff, and students in providing anonymous and confidential feedback/grievances that centers efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

Action Step 2:  Identify an intentional sequence of professional development and training for faculty and staff around diversity, equity, and inclusion, microaggressions, and de-escalation and conflict resolution. We will also explore opportunities/resources available to access an external evaluation related to department functioning around these topics and issues.

Action Step 3: Identify (and seek feedback from students regarding) ways in which available funding can financially support student contributions towards Department-wide equity, diversity, and anti-racism efforts and initiatives. 

Action Step 4: Identify department needs with respect to guidance around mentoring and advising, including revisiting implementation of ‘advising statements’ across programs. 

Action Step 5: Identify potential spaces within ESB that can serve as a safe space for students. Define and describe: Who is this space for? Who does it serve? How will we keep this space safe? 

Action Step 6: Develop a centralized hub for communication around equity, diversity, and anti-racism efforts within the Department that is easily accessible to students and faculty/staff.

In solidarity,

The Town Hall Planning Committee

(A subcommittee of the Educational Psychology Diversity Committee, consisting of Diversity Committee members, Anti-Racism Action Council Members, and students)