Universiteit Leiden

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Dossier

Inclusive education

The Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University values an inclusive learning environment where all students are supported to realize their full potential. We consider diversity of thought, approach, background, and identity essential for high-quality research and learning. We therefore want to facilitate teacher development in the area of D&I by offering specialized training opportunities and support in the form of teaching relief and/or a student assistant.

Partaking in training opportunities can lead to diversifying curricula and developing inclusive teaching practices. Training opportunities on offer support lecturers in addressing some of the questions they might be faced with, such as:

  • How do we manage difficult classroom discussions on controversial or polarizing subjects?
  • How do we balance our commitments to freedom of expression, academic freedom, respect and inclusion?
  • How do we (re)center marginalized perspectives, either historically or contemporarily? If this is not possible within a particular discipline, how are we talking about barriers to inclusion? Why does the canon look the way it does?
  • What examples and metaphors do we use and which cultural frames of reference do we attach to them?

Click here for the overview of D&I training opportunities for staff at the Faculty of Humanities.

Vineet Thakur

University lecturer International Relations (Institute for History)

Vineet Thakur

For me, inclusive teaching requires constantly rethinking my own ideas of pedagogy. To a certain extent, teaching requirements differ from course to course. So, flexibility is key. But at the same time, it is equally important to be attentive to the needs of all students in the classroom. It requires thinking through one’s own blind spots as a teacher that are ideological, experiential and/or embodied.

Inclusive teaching entails having a greater repertoire of tools available and avoiding any dogmas – including that technology necessarily makes education more inclusive.

It also implies listening to more voices in the classroom and bringing in diverse voices from the outside. Eventually, the job of the teacher is not to convince the student of a perspective but to alert them to a wider range of perspectives. Finally, a good teacher, I have learnt in these years, knows how to navigate awkward silences in the classroom.

Mo Gordon

Lecturer (Centre for Linguistics)

Mo Gordon

Inclusive teaching to me is respect for everyone and access to learning for everyone, regardless of a student’s background or abilities. The teaching material should also reflect this; it should approach topics from multiple perspectives representative of not just one culturally dominant group.

I try to foster a learning environment in which students of different backgrounds and abilities feel safe to participate and feel comfortable to let me know what I can do to meet their needs. I think an important way I try to do this is by showing students that I am open to everyone’s comments and feedback in class. I let my students know that I try to cater for their needs as much as possible but that they should feel free to approach me if there is anything I can do to help them or adapt my classes in any way.

Leiden University offers several teacher training courses that specifically focus on teaching inclusively. They are essential in creating more awareness and providing the necessary tools for an inclusive classroom. I must confess that I mostly became more sensitive to diversity in the classroom through experience, and I am still learning to become a more inclusive teacher. I do think, however, that the latter is vital. You need to keep monitoring yourself as a teacher; what implicit biases do I have as a teacher? How can I address them? What can I do or say in my classes to make them accessible to a diverse group? Lastly, as teachers, we set an example and provide role models to students. Therefore, diversity amongst the staff is essential so that students of various backgrounds and abilities will see themselves represented in some way. If you ask me what could be done more, look into a hiring policy that facilitates diversity.

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