Elon Diversity and Inclusion Grants

Since Spring 2011, Elon faculty from many departments and programs have received grants to develop and implement strategies to infuse their curriculum and pedagogies with the best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Below you’ll find descriptions and final reports of projects from the past several years, which demonstrate the range of approaches teams have taken to enhance and improve their teaching and learning practices and approaches.


Strategic Communications

Vanessa Bravo and Lee Bush

Strategic Communications faculty, Vanessa Bravo and Lee Bush, are developing modules that can be used by any Strategic Communications faculty member to introduce new content related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The modules will reflect the new DEI expectations of the communication program’s accrediting body, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), and the Department of Strategic Communication’s associated student learning outcomes update. Their Diversity and Inclusion Grant will include 1) developing the materials for the modules, 2) testing the use of the modules in three target courses, and 3) refining and revising materials based on pilot testing results.


Anne-Marie Iselin and Buffie Longmire-Avital

Psychology faculty, Anne-Marie Iselin and Buffie Longmire-Avital, are working on a project titled Racial Equity for Students in Psychology: Emending our Curriculum and Teaching (RESPECT) – “Nothing about us without us”. The goal of the RESPECT project is to include students’ voices in departmental Diversity, Inclusion, and Racial Equity (DIRE) task force working group activities. Three students will work with faculty leads on the RESPECT project by: gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data; offering feedback on action plans; holding those applicable accountable for responding to their evaluations; and disseminating the project’s work with audiences outside of the psychology department. Ultimately, the RESPECT project will leverage students’ voices to create sustainable curricular and pedagogical changes that create enduring racial equity for our most vulnerable students.

Performing Arts and Music Theatre

Julio Agustin Matos Jr., Deborah Leamy, and Brian Kremer

Performing Arts and Music Theatre faculty, Julio Agustin Matos Jr., Deborah Leamy, and Brian Kremer, are collaborating on curricular revisions across several courses in the Voice and Dance sequence of the Music Theatre degree program. These revisions will aim to create a well-rounded curriculum essential to preparing the next generation of musical theatre artists, which embraces diversity through the exploration vocal and dance styles from a range of cultures. Specifically, each member will research the history, institutional practices, and relevant usage of various diverse genres of Music Theatre performance and offer contributions, such as, for example, Bhangra and Bollywood dance styles, or the exploration and integration of skills related to riffing. Additionally, faculty will identify and provide significant resources that support the area’s mission to train students to transform the field of Musical Theatre. Careful consideration will be given to holistic approaches to revising the course descriptions and student learning outcomes. These concentrated efforts will aid in continuing outreach to students of the global majority as well as in raising the profile of Elon’s Music Theatre program to the international standard of training the next generation of Music Theatre practitioners.

Poverty and Social Justice Program

Toddie Peters, Jessica Carew, Vanessa Drew-Branch, Ketevan Kupatadze, and Rob Perdue

An interdisciplinary team of faculty will work together for this DIG project including [DL1] Toddie Peters (Religious Studies), Jessica Carew (Political Science), Vanessa Drew-Branch (Human Service Studies), Ketevan Kupatadze (World Languages & Cultures), and Rob Perdue (Sociology). The team will redesign a syllabus and create new teaching modules for the Poverty and Social Justice Program (PSJ) that are in line with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty updated and re-designed learning goals. The project will support the development of a new set of PSJ faculty and the redesign of the PSJ110 course. Some of the goals of the project will be to ensure: 1) there is consistency to the basic learning goals, course content, and student experience in this foundational course for all students across sections in this interdisciplinary minor, and 2) that faculty who are recruited to teach future iterations of the class will be able to continue to benefit from the outcomes of this grant.

School of Health Sciences

C. Kim Stokes, Laké Laosebikan-Buggs, Paula DiBiasio, Nita Skillman, and Tiffany Morris

School of Health Sciences (SHS) faculty, C. Kim Stokes (Physician Assistant Studies), Paula DiBiasio (Physical Therapy), Nita Skillman, Tiffany Morris (Nursing), along with Laké Laosebikan-Buggs (Director of Inclusive Excellence for Graduate and Professional Education) are working on an engaged learning project that focuses on improving health equity through collaboration and cultural humility. This project will explore the literature guiding best practices of curricular diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within healthcare provider academic programs to generate interprofessional learning experiences for physician assistant, physical therapy, and nursing students enrolled in the Elon SHS program. They plan to establish an evidence-based activity that initiates a school-wide curricular commitment to infusing DEI in each program with the goal of graduating healthcare professionals who have the skills to bridge health and healthcare disparities.

Political Science and Policy Studies

Liza Taylor, Damion Blake, Kaye Usry, Joel Shelton, and Jessica Carew

Political Science and Policy Studies faculty, Liza Taylor, Damion Blake, Kaye Usry, Joel Shelton, and Jessica Carew, will focus on teaching about systems of power and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Political Science. For their project, they will survey the courses they teach in relation to these priorities and objectives and familiarize themselves with existing research on the best practices for teaching DEI in the social sciences. At a departmental level, the group plans to generate a list of concrete, formalized recommendations for teaching DEI in Political Science and Policy Studies, such as: ground rules for in-class discussion; methods for avoiding tokenizing marginalized students; and lesson plans and activities that can be tailored to a diverse student body and faculty member’s particular expertise, experiences, and identities. Lastly, the group will explore ideas for course and curriculum design to ensure that marginalized and underprivileged perspectives and methodologies are adequately represented in every course and across the major.

Exercise Science

Lauren Walker, Eric Hall, Aaron Piepmeier, Matthew Wittstein, Takudzwa Madzima

Exercise Science faculty, Lauren Walker, Eric Hall, Aaron Piepmeier, Matthew Wittstein, and Takudzwa Madzima, have been awarded a second stage Diversity and Inclusion Grant to expand on a project first initiated in 2020. Their initial Stage I project focused largely on overall departmental climate regarding DEI, including assessing and co-creating curriculum changes with exercise science students and outside consultants with DEI expertise in Sport & Exercise Psychology (SEP). Building on the assessment and creation of curricular change during the first stage of this DIG grant, their Stage 2 project will: 1) implement and evaluate the changes to SEP curriculum in courses taught in 2021-22; 2) engage in the co-creation, with students, of curriculum alterations to classes that fall within the Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics/Motor domains; 3) implement and evaluate the curricular changes in Spring 2022; and 4) co-create opportunities beyond the Exercise Science classroom (e.g., UR mentorship, living learning communities, student clubs), which is a desire expressed by students in the climate assessment.


Exercise Science

Eric Hall, Lauren Walker, and Aaron Piepmeier

Eric Hall, Lauren Walker, and Aaron Piepmeier will assess the climate for Exercise Science students around issues of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI), by specifically focusing on a course required for all majors, Sport or Exercise Psychology (SEP), which emphasizes interventions to change behavior and how to work with people, using the biopsychosocial model. Their project responds to recent conversations within the larger field of SEP. In their proposal, Drs. Hall, Walker and Piepmeier explain it has become clear that the “social” part of this model has been inadequately represented in SEP, and that the field needs to consider social issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion as a lens through which topics in the field should be viewed, rather than as in a more than “checkbox” topic for coaches, athletes, patients, for example.  or within national organizations (e.g., NCAA, AASP). Their DIG project will 1) determine where or if ES students are engaging with DEI issues; 2) bring in experts from ES and related areas to engage faculty, staff and students on issues related to DEI; and 3) implement change in ES curriculum based on findings to help students better understand DEI issues.

Finance & Economics

Margarita Kaprielyan, Adam Aiken, Tonmoy Islam, Brandon Sheridan, and Kate Upton

Faculty from the Love School of Business, Margarita Kaprielyan (Finance), Adam Aiken (Finance), Tonmoy Islam (Economics), Brandon Sheridan (Economics), and Kate Upton (Finance) will complete a stage II project that extends their initial work from a 2018-2019 grant. During Stage I, they surveyed early ­career students in Principles sections of Economics and Finance, as well as seniors in all business majors, on their perceptions of diversity and inclusion within each major. That research shed light on areas to improve in terms of inclusion and efforts to promote diversity. Their Stage II project will expand across other programs within the business school, to construct a sustainable process for collecting and analyzing a longitudinal dataset that will allow them to track the perceptions of students over time to see if their attitudes about DEI and climate change, which will allow them to focus efforts in the areas of greatest need, and to see if the changes they implement have the intended impact. The project team plans to recommend changes at the department and LSB levels and share what they learn with the broader university community. They will work with the LSB Dean’s office to aid in the dissemination of surveys to seniors, and to coordinate efforts with each department on small, evidence-based changes they can implement at the course or department level to enhance diversity and inclusion, and use surveys to measure the effectiveness of these changes.


Joan Barnatt and Allison Bryan

Joan Barnatt and Allison Bryan from the School of Education will suggest revisions across several courses and programs in the School of Education. Specifically, they will update the literature offerings used in the courses to include and feature Latinx culture and history, review online resources in new literacies that include and support Latinx learners, as well as identifying pedagogical strategies and resources that support language and pragmatics for a growing number of language learners. Addressing the needs and representations of diverse students is especially critical, and representing diversity and Inclusion in and through literature are clearly stated objectives in EDU 298, Children’s Literature, EDU 325, Middle Grades Literacy, and EDU 365, Methods and Materials of TESL, courses that are requirements for various licensure programs. These courses will benefit from revisions that provide for the exploration of methods, materials and resources that explicitly address the assets and needs of the local Latinx K-12 population.

Core Curriculum

Naeemah Clark, Amy Johnson, and Paula Patch

Naeemah Clark (Communications), Amy Johnson (History), and Paula Patch (English) will create a three-part “Best Practitioner Kit” intended to help deepen diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) content that is being offered in the Core and better communicate to students where they are encountering the content, theories, and experiential opportunities. The goal will be a three-part Best Practitioner Kit. First, will be a resource guide to help faculty communicate DEI material, teaching techniques, and intentions to students. Resources that focus on inclusive pedagogy, supportive classroom climate, and equitable teaching practice focused on the multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, with a liberal arts foundation. Second, the kit will offer language faculty could use on their syllabi and/or in the classrooms to clarify their DEI intentions. This language will be gathered from colleagues who are successfully communicating their DEI content in their classes. Third, the kit would provide the faculty with a rubric to assess how the application of these tools were formative for the student and faculty member. Once the kit is assembled, the project team will have the human and pedagogical resources to expand DEI in CCR-prefixed courses.


Human Service Studies

Vanessa-Drew Branch

Vanessa Drew-Branch, assistant professor of Human Service Studies will implement and assess student podcast assignments in first-year (111) and senior-level (481) Human Service Studies service-learning courses. The assignment will highlight a community agency’s work to reduce a social problem with a marginalized group while also providing students an opportunity to reflect on and share their experiences working within the community. The podcast content will be assessed and compared to evaluate growth over four years in student understanding and competence in working with vulnerable groups within human service settings. Specifically, the project will examine whether and how the assignment increases students’ understanding of the experience of oppression and privilege, expands their knowledge of social justice activities occurring in the local community, and promotes self-appraisal of one’s own biases.

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Rich Blackmon and Sirena Hargrove-Leak

They will build on a previous DIG project that implemented evidence-based teaching and learning strategies in Elon’s engineering program and investigated possible changes in the new four-year degree program to enhance student learning, particularly around diversity and inclusion. In Stage II, they will more thoroughly analyze the data for evidence of possible correlations, contradictions, and distributions in students’ attitudes and beliefs. The results of this complete Matlab analysis will lead to the exploration and generation of targeted strategies to address attitudes and beliefs about diversity and inclusion unique to Elon Engineering students.

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Department of History & the CREDE

Charles Irons and Damion Blake; Brandon Bell, Fall 2019

Charles Irons, professor of history and chair of the Department of History and Geography, Damion Blake, Assistant Professor in Political Science and Policy Studies, and Brandon Bell (Fall 2019), will gather information about the current curricular and co-curricular offerings that consider whiteness, race, equity and inclusion to better ascertain the scope and depth in which the institution seeks to engage these concepts in various ways. They plan to first map out the constellations of course, activities, dialogues and experiences related to concepts of whiteness, race, equity and inclusion to develop a more comprehensive picture of the mechanisms in which Elon University engages concepts of History and Memory. The project will create a new resource for faculty, staff, and students seeking to engage concepts of history and memory, race, equity, inclusion and identity and offer new and promising practice for exploring and teaching these subjects effectively.

Teaching about Anti-Black Racism from Elon’s History website


Sana Haq, Staci Saltz, and Nicole Triche

They will create a resource to guide students on how to make their videos accessible to a variety of audiences. They will publish electronic and paper copies for easy distribution and share with faculty colleagues suggestions for implementing the guide in classes. This guide will be relevant to all majors within the Department of Communications and help infuse accessibility standards throughout the undergraduate and graduate levels to align with industry standards. Implementing these guidelines into the curriculum will teach students a deeper understanding of diverse audiences and the steps needed to ensure their work can reach them. This resource will concentrate on video projects but they hope that it will grow over time to include other forms of multimedia.

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Mathematics & Statistics

Aaron Trocki, Mark Weaver, Laura Taylor, Kirstie Doehler, & Ryne VanKrevelen

A team of Math & Statistics faculty members will explore evidence-based pedagogies to meet the learning needs of diverse students in Statistics in Application (STS 212). They will create a curricular resource to guide the implementation of selected evidence-based pedagogies, including heterogeneously mixed groups for in-class and out of class statistical tasks and projects. The team will implement those pedagogies in the fall and spring and gather data to analyze and document effectiveness in order to refine and then share the curricular resource.

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Brooks Depro and Katy Rouse

They plan to use their grant to expand efforts of diversity themes in the Love School of Business (LSB) and economics department by focusing attention on better understanding the entry of both women and minority entrepreneurs in the consulting industry. They will develop an empirical research assignment that asks each student team to code and deliver a final project using Tableau software to visualize their dataset. Each team member will also prepare a one-page memorandum discussing their findings related to entrepreneurial diversity in the consulting field, relative to a comparison industry. This project will address a key LSB goal of providing students with more knowledge and understanding of diversity-related issues in the business environment.

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Margaret Chapman, Paula Patch, and Jennifer Eidum

They will: inquire about ways racism, ableism, sexism and classism may implicitly or explicitly be present in the structure (curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and hiring practices); identify ways to rectify any of these areas, and implement some of the ways identified; assess the outcomes of the inquiry and subsequent intervention; and develop and publish for future College Writing Program administrators and faculty a procedure for future investigations of the structure of the program.

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Richard Blackmon and Sirena Hargrove-Leak

They will collect demographic information in the Engineering program in order to identify disparities in Elon’s engineering program as compared to both Elon as a whole and national averages. Knowing these comparisons will then inform the team as they investigate what could be changed in the new four-year degree program to enhance student learning. They plan to investigate potential areas of improvement that include, but are not limited to, the language used in materials shared with students, classroom activities, student-teacher relationships, and student-student relationships in courses and the major. The project will include data collection, data analysis, and exploration and implementation of solutions that could address problems revealed by the data.

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English Literature

Prudence Layne, Scott Proudfit, Kevin Bourque, & Erin Pearson

The working group will research best pedagogical and inclusion practices in literary studies, creating a working bibliography and resource database (with sample assignments, rubrics and video instruction) for faculty teaching literature courses at the introductory, intermediate, advanced and capstone levels, with accompanying student learning outcomes. These resources will help faculty who teach literature across a variety of formats ensuring that their courses incorporate materials, pedagogies and experiences related to diverse populations.

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Finance & Economics

Kate Upton, Adam Aiken, Margarita Kaprielyan, Tonmoy Islam, & Brandon Sheridan

They plan to identify the factors that decrease the overall participation of women in both majors. They plan to study the choice of major by administering surveys within principles classes and conducing focus group interviews with business students. The results would provide valuable insight into the perceptions of finance and economics among female students and why they may not choose these fields as their major. Through this grant, the recipients also plan to make recommendations on possible curriculum, pedagogy, and advising changes that would encourage more diversity within the majors.

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Mathematics & Statistics       

Aaron Trocki, Jan Mays, Karen Yokley, & Jim Beuerle

Researching evidence-based pedagogies to meet the learning needs of diverse learners in Calculus I courses. Their project will include research on how and which sociomathematical norms to establish in order to structure a supportive environment for a semester-long course with a high expectation for meaningful mathematical discourse. After completing this research, the team will develop and share a teaching and learning resource with the aim of increasing participation of all learners in Calculus I courses.

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Erin Hone and Marna Winter

Providing more opportunities for streamlined cultural relevance experiences across all education methods courses, in an effort to help students see diversity work in practice within their consecutive practicum experiences. The project goal is for all teacher candidates to be able to recognize the many assets their students bring into their classroom, including the personal, cultural, and community knowledge of students.

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Doug Kass, Max Negin, Nichole Triche, & Youseff Osman

Working on a project to update course materials to reflect the multitude of diverse voices in our contemporary entertainment media environment. The project will include the creation of a master list of films and television programs as well as material for lectures and classroom activities that will allow faculty in Cinema and TV (and other interested faculty) to present, assign, and analyze a more diverse range of films and television to create a more global, and more inclusive classroom environment.

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World Languages & Cultures         

April Post and Pablo Celis-Castillo

Plan to develop the learning outcomes and write a new curriculum for a foundational course in the Spanish minor and major, SPN 222: Contemporary Conversations. The grant will allow them to diversify the pedagogical approach and expand its educational core to include linguistics skills such as writing, reading, and listening, and will do so by introducing coming of age narratives from a diverse range of authors.

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Casey DiRienzo, Jennifer Platania

Integrated cross-country macroeconomic data sets into their MSM 567 course, which teaches the fundamentals of analytics for the new M.S. in Management graduate program.

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Public Health Studies, CREDE

Stephanie Baker White, Randy Williams

Developed a cross-disciplinary racial equity course to provide students with a critical framework for analyzing systems of racial inequity and creating strategies to effectively support diversity and inclusion on and off campus.

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2015-2016 (Stage Two Grants)


Stephen Bloch-Schulman, Ann Cahill, Nim Batchelor, and two students 

Investigated the gender gap in Philosophy department course enrollment through surveys, data mining, and focus groups. For their Stage Two DIP project, they used findings from that research to develop recommendations and implement a plan for making changes to the department regarding enrollment. Additionally, they planned to evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of the plan as it is implemented.

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Mark Enfield and Erin Hone

Built on their stage one Diversity Infusion Project (2012-2013) which focused on encouraging teacher candidates to recognize the diversity within their classrooms. In Stage Two of our DIP, they focused on encouraging teacher candidates to implement culturally relevant pedagogy consistently within their instruction. Teacher candidates were asked to use their students’ “funds of knowledge” to make their classrooms more inclusive and the content more relevant to their unique learners.

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Mathematics & Statistics                                               

Laura Taylor and Kirsten Doehler

Built on their previous Diversity Infusion Project (2013-2014) in which they integrated diversity-related data into group projects in our STS 212/MTH 220: Statistics in Application courses. Their Stage Two project had students analyzing FDA data on individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This data set lends itself to a variety of analysis methods covered in the course and helped students better understand a portion of the population that could be different from themselves, perhaps leading to overturning students’ preconceived notions about SNAP recipients.