Guest speaker at USU encourages classroom diversity, controversial discussions

Mathew L. Ouellett, director of the Center for Teaching at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, visited USU Thursday as part of the Provost Lecture Series. This was the first of seven events. His lecture was geared toward faculty members creating more inclusive higher-education environments. USU faculty members were not the only ones in the audience, faculty members from other universities were present as well as undergraduate and graduate students.Ouellett said, “So I’m sure you’re wondering, what does a chubby white guy know about diversity? Everyone in this room knows something about diversity.”When speaking of his college experience he expounded on how coming to terms with being gay prepared him to teach diversity and social justice. After introducing himself, he opened the lecture to suggestions of what the faculty members wanted to discuss and get out of the lecture.He said, “We (educators) are about the business of creating better individuals. American academia has a very dominant way of going about this. We expect the students to adapt to us. We are an institution that is set. However, the institution needs to become more permeable.”Ouellett said educators today tend to shy away from the controversial topics. They panic when a situation takes them by surprise and tend to deflect it, he said. When educators begin to be more inclusive there will be times when they are taken by surprise, he said.”Embrace the falling down,” he said.Ouellett quoted Miles Davis, “There is no such thing as a wrong note. It’s what comes after.”

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