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LSA Hack-A-Thon

Strategic Design for Year Two

#withDeanMartin, LSA SG, and optiMize

Students from across LSA came together on Wednesday, November 8th to hack the design of six challenges that our college faces when it comes to implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Students worked with staff, faculty, and their peers to develop a design that could offer a solution to the problems we highlighted. Here is what our students came up with:

Hack #1 - Train the Trainer: Building Inclusive Classrooms

What’s the Challenge?

LSA has over 1,200 faculty members and over 3,000 classes per term. Our plan is tailored to this reality. Create an online DEI training module for the faculty; incentivize them to use it.

What’s the Design?

Students in this hack determined that some of the biggest challenges linked with training LSA faculty comes with large class sizes, spatial set up of classrooms, and cultural differences among students. Students suggested that faculty should be better informed by campus happenings, and be more confident in acknowledging campus/national climate issues.

The students in this hack identified a series of skills that faculty can use to build inclusive academic spaces. These skills include:

  • Encouraging more 1:1 interaction, or small group based work
  • Being aware of cultural biases in teaching examples and stories.
  • Encouraging event participation in large classrooms using the “step back, step up” guideline for dialogue.

What’s Being Done?

We have created more resources for faculty to help them respond to negative climate incidents on campus. This includes giving them specific information about the incident and the responses of the university, and suggestions on how to create an inclusive climate in the classroom and beyond to help students navigate their own feelings/reactions. 

We have created an Inclusive pedagogies website where faculty can access multiple class plans, exercises, and teaching materials that can enhance inclusive learning.

We have designed and built several new classrooms designed for small group work, one-on-one interaction with faculty during class, as well as flexible configurations for different teaching techniques.

We are exploring creating an online training module for all faculty on inclusive training.

Hack #2 - Train your Peers: The 30 for 80 Model

What’s the Challenge?

The 30 largest courses on campus reach close to 80% of the undergrad population. Create a flexible module for implicit bias training for use in these classes.

What’s the Design?

Students in this hack examined the role that implicit biases play in our day-to-day lives. The students designed a teaching module to address implicit biases that can be used throughout the 30 largest LSA classes. The students in this hack suggests the following plan for implementing this module:

  • An implicit bias module would be built in winter 2018 using the assistance of a student panel and design team
  • During the winter, spring, and summer terms of 2018, the module would be tested in smaller spring/summer term classes and modified based on user experience and learning content
  • During the fall semester of 2019, the module would be implemented into 30 largest LSA classes 

What’s Being Done?

While there is no established program of teaching students about unconscious bias—we are working on it!

Hack #3 - Mapping R&E: Defining Student Driven Possibilities

What’s the Challenge?

Challenge/Opportunity: We assessed the degree requirement and are continuing to implement changes, but we want more students to be involved. Create a user driven (aka student-centered, peer-to-peer) map of R&E courses to guide new LSA students in understanding the requirement and selecting courses

What’s the Design?

The design team in the third hack was tasked with the job of integrating student voices and peer-to-peer evaluations into the current R&E course requirement. The peer-to-peer evaluations may not have the desired impact and reach.

The students in this hack proposed that course evaluations include questions about whether courses meet the requirements of being an R&E course. The data is then used by committees (composed of faculty and students) to determine which courses are better suited to fit the R&E requirements. 

What’s Being Done?

The R&E Review Committee is currently evaluating the R&E graduation requirement. For more information, visit this site.

Hack #4 - Dialogue and Idealogical Diversity: The Democracy in Action Model

What’s the Challenge?

Challenge/Opportunity: We increasingly live inside of ideological echo chambers and struggle to talk across differences. Hack the design of The Democracy in Action Fund which is built to fund student projects around political dialogue and unity.

What’s the Design?

Participants in the fourth design challenge grappled with the question of how to create channels of discourse between individuals and groups that come from differing political ideologies to make political dialogue “nonpartisan”. Students determined that intentionality and targeted communication could help the college bridge this gap between individuals.

The students in this hack designed a program that connects politically-oriented student organizations and invites them to dialogues with other organizations from the opposite end of the spectrum. The process would be as follows:

  • LSA would have an open call to all organizations, inviting them to participate in a series of dialogues with other organizations on specific topics around politics, national climate, and international policies.
  • Organizations would be offered incentives, such as grants and funding to motivate them to enroll in the program.
  • After organizations had signed up for the program, they would be paired with other organizations for each dialogue. LSA would provide the space and funding for these dialogues and a facilitator upon request. 

What’s Being Done?

The Democracy in Action fund seeks to offer resources and project support to interested students, staff, or faculty who want to promote democratic engagement on campus. For more information about the fund and how you can apply for a grant, visit this site

Hack #5 - Shift Campus Climate: Forming a Critical Mass

What’s the Challenge?

Challenge/Opportunity: It’s a big campus! LSA has over 17,500 undergraduates; not all of them are equally engaged. You probably can’t reach everyone. The key, we think, is creating critical mass. Hack the design of the LSA Inclusive Campus Corp, a program designed to give student staff training on diversity and cultural competency.

What’s the Design?

The challenge for hack five was to design a program to develop a critical mass of students who can help shift the campus climate and create inclusive spaces throughout campus. The design team identified first year students as the focus group of their initiative.

The students in this hack designed a mandatory “Change It Up!” program to create a platform for conversations for first year students. Beginning at orientation, students would sign up for small group dialogues that would take place over the course of the academic year. Each session would have a different topic about inclusive practices on campus. Various student organizations and workshop facilitation methods will be used. The program would also offer mentorship opportunities for first year students. 

What’s Being Done?

The Inclusive Campus Corps offers training, workshops and reflection sessions to student employees to help bolster inclusivity on campus. Our ICC fellows attend professional development workshops that assist them in responding to adversity, student conflict, and a broad range of topics specific to campus climate and diversity in student populations. The workshop topics focus on implicit bias, stereotype threat, microaggressions, effective allyhood, and topic-specific practices so that these students can be more inclusive in their workplaces. The units that are participating in the pilot year of the program include: Instructional Support Services, Science Learning Center, Language Resource Center, Comprehensive Studies Program, Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, The Residential College, Health Sciences Scholars Program, Women in Science & Engineering Residential Program, and the Michigan Research Community.

For more information about the program, visit this site

Hack #6 - optiMize Transfer Students: Building Bridges to U-M

What’s the Challenge?

LSA has committed to increasing the number of transfer students to 1,200-1,300 per year. We want a major percentage from community colleges. We want to build “transfer bridges.” How can we build more accessible bridges to get to Michigan?

What’s the Design?

The sixth design challenge was centered around building better recruitment bridges from community colleges to UM. The students suggested creating more co-curricular activities, so community college students can experience opportunities available at UM. This highlight reasons for community college students to apply to UM.

The students in this hack designed an initiative that uses optiMize as a student organization to attract students from community colleges. Students that transfer to Michigan would be invited to join optiMize to work on a social innovation project of their choice. These same students would then become project leaders and help recruit other incoming transfer students from community colleges into their project teams. This process would create peer-t0-peer mentorship and connections to resources at Michigan. 

What’s Being Done?

 The LSA Strategic Plan lays out a five-year plan for recruit, retain, and support transfer students. For more information, visit this site