Jun 4, 2021

Fulbright Seminar trains educators on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion issues

Ohio State Virtual Fulbright Seminar on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Thirty German educators examined political, historical, cultural and social issues that influence education in U.S. schools via Ohio State’s virtual Fulbright Seminar on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom.

Taking place from March 8 – May 18, the Fulbright seminar was hosted by the College of Education and Human Ecology, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs in partnership with Fulbright Germany.

Seminar participants were provided with opportunities to compare cultural contexts of Germany and the U.S. and learn about techniques for implementing practices for equity and inclusion in their own classrooms.

Topics covered during the seminar include:

  • LGBTQIA student inclusion in U.S. schools with Teaching and Learning faculty Mollie Blackburn and Mindi Rhoades 
  • Linguistic diversity in education with Education and Human Ecology faculty Dori Harrison and Michiko Hikida 
  • Building inclusive school communities and classrooms with Upper Arlington Ambassadors of Change, Upper Arlington teacher Tricia Fellinger, and Ohio State Multilingual Education doctoral student Daniel Ferguson 
  • Improving classroom participation through applied improvisation with Global Engagement program coordinator Dan Montour

Thorsten Knab, a high school principal from Germany, participated in the seminar to learn about how to address diverse cultural and social backgrounds for his students’ benefit through the lens of the American school system. Knab explained that discussions about language and gender resonated with him the most. 

“I learned about aspects we could appreciate more and be more sensitive about at my school. I intend to share these results with my school community after the second part of the seminar in fall,” Knab said. 

Ruth Malaka, who works with students from the fifth to the tenth grade and mentors future teachers in Germany, joined the seminar to reflect about how she and other educators engage with others in inclusive learning environments.

“In both positions I see a growing need for developing nuanced practices of diversity and inclusion,” Malaka said. “In my role as a mentor for trainee teachers, I am focused on familiarizing the young teachers with skills they need to create a truly inclusive classroom and to model what it is like to value diversity.”

“We are grateful to all our partners and the Fulbright Germany teachers for the enriching conversations this spring,” noted Francis Troyan, faculty lead for the Fulbright seminar and associate professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology. “The Fulbright Germany teachers learned how to build community with students and families. Together, we reflected on our language use and language varieties in our classrooms. Most importantly, the teachers left with tons of tools and examples for designing culturally responsive curriculum.”

Ivan Stefano, administrative lead for the Fulbright seminar and director of ESL Programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning, is excited to host the second part of the seminar in-person in Columbus during the fall, switching from virtual format. The second part of the seminar will occur in October 2021 for 10 days, consisting of workshops, professional conversations, cultural excursions and virtual visits to Columbus-area schools.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Classroom Seminar is the second occurrence of Seminar at Ohio State in partnership with Fulbright Germany. In 2019, twenty German master of education came to Columbus in 2019 for a three-week in-person version of the seminar.