Striving for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

May 26, 2021
Stock image Crowd of people walking down the street into the bright light of sunset in New York City NYC, from Getty.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice are central components of the College of Education mission—it is not only what we say, but who we are and what we do. The events of 2020 and early 2021 reignited these commitments, and the college focused on new programs and initiatives that reflect these realities.


Terah Venzant Chambers
Terah Venzant Chambers

Terah Venzant Chambers, an urban education and education policy scholar and a leader in local and national spaces, was named the College of Education’s associate dean for equity and inclusion in May 2020. Venzant Chambers works with faculty, staff and students to create a culture and workplace that is caring, open and safe for all.

“It is important to look at how we can be proactive in providing the best support to everyone to be whole, healthy and continue to do the teaching, research and outreach that makes our college so great,” said Venzant Chambers, also a professor of K-12 educational administration.


Here are some examples of recent efforts from the college to help practitioners create more just and equitable working and learning environments.


Expert scholars from the College of Education hosted two “Rising to Our Responsibility” forums for teachers and educational leaders to address current and ongoing concerns in the nation.

Facebook Advertisement from 2020 for Rising to our Responsibility Forum. Icludes photos of four female college leaders, Terah Venzant Chambers, Dorinda Carter Andrews, Jada Phelps-Moultrie and Alyssa Dunn. 

Text reads - Rising To Our Responsibility: A Forum for School Leaders
Rising To Our Responsibility Forum Advertisement from 2020

On June 9, 2020, more than 800 people, including many K-12 teachers and administrators, tuned in for “A Forum for School Leaders to Address Racial Violence and Anti-Blackness in Michigan Schools.” The event recognized pervasive and ongoing violence against Black Americans, and called on educators to lead the charge against racism in their schools. Panelists included Terah Venzant Chambers; Dorinda Carter Andrews, professor and chairperson of the Department of Teacher Education; Alyssa Dunn, associate professor of teacher education; and Jada Phelps-Moultrie, assistant professor of educational administration.

“Any schooling project that aims to educate Black children and does not provide the material conditions and resources for affirming their humanity, sustaining their joy and cultivating their brilliance inherently has an anti-Black agenda, even if it wasn’t intended to.”

Professor Dorinda Carter Andrews, Department of Teacher Education chairperson

On March 3, 2021, “Moving Beyond ‘Back to Normal’ in Times of Unprecedented Uncertainty” explored what education might be post-pandemic, and how educators and students can seek a new, better educational future. Panelists included Bryan Beverly, director of the Office for K-12 Outreach; Kristine Bowman, associate dean for academic and student affairs; and assistant professors Terrance Burgess and Jane C. Lo.


Screenshot from virtual panel discussion about racial inequity. Included in photo: Student Alexandria Thomas, Ariel Graham (M.A. ’19), Pierre Louise and Shawn Capell.
Screenshot from virtual panel discussion about racial inequity.

Students and faculty from the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis presented a virtual panel discussion about racial inequity on Feb. 24, 2021. Student Alexandria Thomas moderated the session, which allowed those working in applied behavior analysis settings to hear about the experiences of people of color in their field and learn how to engage in behaviors that promote cultural competencies. The panelists included Ariel Graham (M.A. ’19), Pierre Louise and Shawn Capell. Five hundred people participated in the free event, and Board Certified Behavior Analysts® who attended were eligible to receive continuing education credits for participating.


Within the MSU College of Education community, leaders, faculty and staff:

  • Cultivated an intentional virtual space for Black staff, faculty and students to process together the effects of anti-Black racism. Concurrently, non-Black staff, faculty and students engaged in learning and action around these issues. These groups are expected to continue to engage with one another to foster understanding and seek change.
  • Mobilized a caretaking taskforce when early surveys related to working from home during COVID-19 showed the overwhelming stressor was related to caregiving. After surveying and hosting listening sessions, the taskforce released a recommendation document focused on how we could support each other and lessen the burden.
  • Anticipated impacts on pre-tenure faculty who experienced interruptions to their work as a result of COVID-19 and created a diverse committee to reevaluate the process and provide needed resources, support and guidance (read the Faculty Viewpoint for more insights from Associate Professor Leslie Gonzales).
  • Held virtual listening sessions and other events to help international students and scholars feel welcome and navigate national policy changes, visa issues and challenges related to remote learning. The Office of International Studies in Education also provides guidance to faculty and staff for supporting and creating inclusive instructional environments.

“I encourage you to think about ways … you can interrupt some of the unexamined practices that might be reinforcing the linguistic and cultural privilege of some students and some bodies of knowledge, while making marginal those of others.”

Professor Lynn Paine, associate dean for international studies


Robert E. Floden joined fellow education deans across the Big Ten by appearing in a video about our collective commitment to create more equitable and just learning environments for all people.

Also, read Teaching for Racial Justice to learn how MSU is collaborating with universities from other parts of the nation to improve how new teachers are prepared to enact racial justice in the classroom.


Screen Shot of virtual discussion of Jane Lo.
Jane C. Lo

In the days after major events—such as presidential elections, political protests and inaugurations—how should teachers approach these topics in the classroom? MSU faculty members shared some advice with educators in the early days of 2021.

Watch: New MSU Assistant Professor Jane C. Lo discusses the topic.

Read: Following the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Associate Professor Alyssa Dunn shared an extensive list of resources for teachers in Beyond the Spotlight and Associate Professor Kyle Greenwalt was one of six experts who shared insight in The Conversation on how schools should address the events.


MSU’s Dorinda Carter Andrews, with Shaun Harper, proposed six things educators can do in making statements about George Floyd, reminding us that it’s what leaders do that matters: “6 Considerations for School Leaders Making a Statement About George Floyd” (Education Week, June 2020).


“As we move through this period together, we might want to just push aside the challenges we have faced and ‘turn the corner’ on a post-pandemic ‘return to normal.’ Perhaps. But we have also learned that our past may not have fully represented the lived meaning of the three tenets [diversity, equity and inclusion] the university espouses for all. With the guidance of so many dedicated leaders with and without titles of authority to walk with us, the future may be more fulfilling when we take lessons from these last months (and years). This is an opportunity to build new ways of working with each other that more truly reflect the safe, welcoming, and inclusive campus for all.”

This is an abstract from an MSU Academic Advancement Network blog post written by Professor Marilyn Amey. Amey also serves as interim associate provost for faculty and academic staff development.