Using stories towards greater inclusion
April 8, 2019
As part of involvement in a five-year NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate project on improving climate for graduate students, CIRTL at Cornell and the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement have been offering My Voice, My Story workshops to groups of graduate students, postdocs, and graduate field faculty and administrators.
“Our identities affect how we experience the world around us and how others perceive us,” said Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for inclusion and student engagement and co-facilitator of the Feb. 20 My Voice, My Story (MVMS) session. “Whenever we look at or engage with someone, we make multiple assumptions about their identities and experiences based on our perceptions of them. However, perceptions are not always accurate, not all identities are obvious, and everyone is susceptible to the negative implications of implicit bias.”
The MVMS sessions pair video monologues – constructed from real experiences of Cornell graduate and professional degree students – with facilitated dialogue. The stories shared are ones that frequently go untold. The program uses these stories as a means of generating understanding and empathy, and to identify factors that negatively influence the climate experienced by students. Through the facilitated dialogue, participants also have the opportunity to develop and share strategies on how to create more inclusive and supportive research and learning environments.