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Multicultural Teaching and Learning: Inclusion and Belonging In and Outside the Classroom

Embedding and Contextualizing Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination in Research, Pedagogy and Policy

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How to Use this Guide

A course syllabus is the foundation of a transformative classroom experience for both the instructor and the students.  Course materials that reflect a diversity of thought and experience can lead to robust discussions and a deeper understanding of learning objectives.

It can be challenging to navigate the many articles, books, and multimedia options to ensure your syllabus has an inclusive and varied representation of perspectives. As you begin the process of exploring new course materials, consider the following reflection questions and equity-minded teaching practices.

Syllabus Repositories

Check out other syllabi for information and inspiration!

Examine Your Syllabus

Some ways to think about your syllabus as a whole:

  • Include link to author bio for each reading in syllabus. You'll be able to get an overview of who is included, and give your students agency to find out more about who they are learning from.
  • Include a brief bio for the authors for each week’s readings.
  • Include a collage of all author faces in your opening presentation for the course as a visual representation of whose work is included in the readings. Visual representations such as this are not the only way to gauge diversity of your readings, but you can do a quick assessment of who is present and who is not. 

There are some tools that can help you assess you syllabus:

Assess a Reading

Who is on the syllabus:
Goal: By including diverse authors on a syllabus, students connect to the material and to class discussions because some will see their own success represented and others will see that success can be shared among many different kinds of people.

Some questions to ask for each reading you assign as you construct and revise your syllabus:

  • Is the author in a protected class (as defined by Brandeis)?
  • Who might be missing and what does that mean for classroom equity?
  • Are authors' credentials coming from the same institutions (Ivy League, etc.)?
    • Authors coming from the same school of thought can create an echo chamber of the same homogeneous conclusions. By including authors from different institutions, students can explore multiple points of view, leading to more robust classroom discussions and increased critical thinking skills.
    • Using readings from a small pool of institutions may perpetuate systems of power. 
  • How do we acknowledge these structures in class discussion?

Why was it chosen?
Goal: By examining why something was chosen, we can identify places where more inclusive material can be used and move away from “we’ve always just used this.” This can also identify where there is a lack of diversity in your field.

  • Are your readings taken from a narrow set of sources (same journals, same databases, same authors)
  • Is there room for new research, and where is that coming from?
  • Was it recommended to you, if so, by whom? If you receive reading recommendations from colleagues, do they represent diverse categories?
  • Is this specific reading core to the discipline, or could it be replaced by something or someone more representative of our goals at Heller?

Find New-to-You and Emerging Researchers

Please see the CTL page "Resources to help diversify your curricular materials."

Your professional organization likely has an "Emerging Voices" or similar round table. Attend a meeting at the next conference, reach out to their chair or organizer, and follow their social media channels to keep current.

Subject-specific resources can be found online. Librarians suggest the following:


Did we miss one? Send your suggestions to your subject liaison! 

Library Resources

Brandeis Library is here to support your teaching, and we strive to develop collections that support the curriculum of the University.  As you consider diversifying your syllabi, please suggest additions to our collections.

Subject specialist librarians are available through Brandeis Library to work with you on search strategies and to help you obtain the materials you've selected.

Whether you are creating a course from scratch or revising an existing course, we are here to support you as you design a more diverse and inclusive syllabus. 

The lists below points to some of our library databases which include content from underrepresented groups or locations. This does not represent the extent of our collections; you may want to browse our full list of databases to find sources in a specific area.  

Library Databases which index research about underrepresented groups

Examples of Library Databases that include perspectives from underrepresented groups