Tips to Encourage Diversity and Inclusion in Economics and Business Courses

Author: Beth Ryan is Associate Professor of Instruction at Columbia College Chicago’s Business and Entrepreneurship department.

It is a continuous process that requires conscious, consistent choices to foster diversity and inclusion in the classroom. It requires a lot of attention in person and can be even more difficult in an online setting.
Here are nine tips that I believe will help you in your courses.
Tip 1: Provide Relevancy
Content selection is dynamic. Engaging students requires that you provide relevant, fresh and current content examples.
Tip 2: Take into consideration multiple perspectives
Before I start, I examine my curricula from both an antiracist as well as cultural perspective. I ask myself “does it affirm all my students?” I draw on multiple resources to provide examples and cases that represent minority business leaders.
Tip 3: Encourage conversation and discussion
To foster a learning community, create an online discussion forum. Students should be taught to share real-world examples that are relevant to the course content. This allows for multiple perspectives and expands the conversation.
Tip 4 – Ask students to share
One or two students can be the teacher for the day. Students bring a new perspective to the content and feel like they are the instructors. Students are able to bring in new technology, interactive tools such as polling, word clouds, and online quiz makers. They also find innovative ways to teach.
Tip 5: Create course guidelines
Get buy-in from students for expectations. I establish a framework and agreements for the class. Students then add their own. This creates a transparent commitment and gives everyone a sense of ownership.
Tip 6 – Recognize Biased Thinking
I challenge myself to “check out my bias at home” and invite students to do so at the beginning of each synchronous class meeting. We can identify our biases and invite one another to look at it from a different perspective.
Tip 7: Utilize Peer-to-Peer Reviewing
You might consider using peer reviews for assignments and forums. This allows students to get feedback from others than the instructor.
Tip 8 – Place students in small groups
Zoom Breakout rooms can be used to encourage small-group learning. Some students find it difficult speaking up in large online courses. It is possible to have more students participate in the course and speak up in a smaller group.
Tip 9 – Continue your own education
Be culturally sensitive and antiracist. Continue to develop your cultural intelligence and skills. Keep up-to-date with the latest trends and research by looking to reliable sources.
While we won’t be able to do it perfectly all the time, if we keep trying to recognize and eliminate obstacles, we will continue to create diverse and inclusive learning environments regardless of whether we are physically present or not.

This video is from the 17th Annual Economics Teaching Conference and focuses on creating an inclusive and diverse classroom environment.