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There are many ways to engage administration, faculty, and staff in topics around diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and inclusive pedagogy, both structured and unstructured.
One strategy is the concept of the Little Library. Little Libraries have sprung up all across the country in the last couple of years and the ReBUILDetroit team decided to try this method.
This approach is a soft strategy for engagement outside of a structured setting that provides an opportunity for the university community to read at their leisure and to take a deeper dive into facets of DEI, race, culturally-relevant pedagogy, and other topics that interest them without any pressure. The resources in the Little Library are easy to obtain and the libraries are located in highly trafficked areas.
The libraries were a truly collaborative effort. The actual structures were provided by a faculty member’s relative, and they were designed and painted by art and graphic design students from Madonna University, in Michigan.
Katy Snyder, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Science at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), led the ribbon cutting ceremony on February 20, 2019. UDM Provost Pamela Zarkowski cut the ribbons on all three of the libraries in conjunction with the artists.
The range of topics in the libraries are intentionally broad and include both academic and non-academic offerings. Some of the categories of books are:
Race; LGBTQ+; social justice; civil rights; White privilege; ableism; microaggressions; histories of Asians, Latinx, Indigenous peoples, and Pacific Islanders; gender bias; medical ethics; and theoretical perspectives such as critical race theory, culturally relevant teaching pedagogy, and Friere’s pedagogy of the oppressed. There are also novels which give great insight into various communities and achievements of people of color such as "The Hate You Give", “Hidden Colors", "My Beloved World" by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and others.
The student collaborators from Madonna University did a great job and they said that they really enjoyed working on the project because it was meaningful to them. Collaborations like this speak to the shared mission of social justice embedded within both universities.
The organizers hope the content in the Little Libraries will stimulate conversations and increase understanding of why embracing diversity of persons and thought is key to our future.
From left to right: Jahzara Mayes Otoo, ReBUILDetroit Institutional Development Core Coordinator; Katherine Snyder, ReBUILDetroit Co-PI & Dean of Engineering and Science Detroit Mercy; Pamela Zarkowski, Provost at Detroit Mercy
Artists left to right: Michele Dimond, Keller Hier, Rachel Eaton, AJ Barrera from Madonna University
For more information about this concept, contact Jahzara Mayes Otoo, Ed.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Detroit Mercy.
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.