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ACCESS+ Engagement at the 2021 Aspire Summer Institute

July 15, 2021

ACCESS+ sent a team to the 2021 Aspire Summer Institute, which was hosted virtually from June 7-11, 2021 by the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance. The Institute was grounded in Aspire’s Inclusive Professional Framework for Faculty (IPF: Faculty)--a holistic professional development approach that advocates awareness, knowledge and skill-building to develop an equity mindset and put it into practice through relationship and communication skills. The ASI was designed to increase capacity of Aspire IChange Network (ICN) institutions and other organizational teams to affect diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-focused change.

In addition to ACCESS+, teams from five IChange Network institutions (Florida State University, University of Georgia, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis), as well as Johns Hopkins University, and Carnegie Mellon University attended the week-long Institute, which was facilitated by a team of national thought leaders. The ASI explored topics like: (a) social and cultural identity, (b) cultural awareness, (c) implicit bias and stereotyping, (d) prejudice and discrimination, (e) intersectionality, (f) affinity-based spaces, (g) systems of privilege and power, and (h) organizational change. The facilitators and expert presenters engaged participants in thinking about these topics from an individual as well as systemic and structural levels.

Key features of the ASI included the following: (a) expert presentations, (b) reflective activities and scenario-based role play sessions, (c) daily action planning as institutional teams to advance thinking about local DEI change, (d) opportunities for daily reflective writing as a pedagogical tool to promote synthesis and learning, (e) virtual, optional, pre-Institute coffee hours in affinity-based groups on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and (f) a poster session on Friday to allow for sharing and crowd-sourcing of ideas.

The ACCESS+ team used daily action planning times to consider how Aspire’s IPF: Faculty will translate into the disciplinary and professional society space. ACCESS+’s goal is to use the IPF as a foundation to its annual convening of disciplinary and professional society boundary spanners. Aspire also continues to engage Institute participants in a combined monthly Community of Practice which will begin late Summer 2021.

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