Month: September 2017


Diversity Program of the Month
RACE: Are We So Different?

School: NC State University Region: SAACURH
Person in charge: Chester Miller Nominator: Anna Patton

Target Population: 500 Time Needed to Organize: 3 weeks
Number of People in Attendance: 51 Date(s) of Program: 9/10/17
Number of People Needed to Organize: 2 Cost of Program: 1,115
On-Campus Population: 8500 Chapter Size: 85

Origin of Program:

“RACE: Are We So Different?” originated as a special program for residential students in Living Learning Villages in alignment with the University’s Common Reading Program. The University’s 2017 Common Read, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is a compelling letter from a father to his son addressing his lived experiences through systemic inequalities in race, gender, and social class (Coates, 2015). It comes at a critical time in our nation’s history where there is civil unrest, police brutality, and other widely-noted examples of identity-based violence like the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, VA. The inspiration for this program was a desire to demonstrate one potential pathway for sustained engagement with the Common Reading selection through utilization of campus and community resources as well as to explore the story of race from the lens of science, history, and personal experiences to ensure residents gain a better understanding of human differences and variation as well as their impacts on race and racism in the United States. Due to the nature of the program and its engagement with the Common Read, it was selected as a mini-grant winner for funding by New Student Programs, thus incurring no costs for residents.

Word Count: 199

Please give a short description of the program:

To underscore the threads of Coates’ work, our program included visiting the exhibit “RACE: Are We So Different?,” which is currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In addition to attending the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Exhibit, the event also included a pre-event activity to contexualize the visit as well as a post-trip debrief led by counseling staff partners. Prior to the group’s trip to the exhibit, we conducted a pre-trip activity to prepare students for their museum experience including watching two videos, "RACE: Are We So Different,” ( and “The Story of Race: A History” ( The purpose of the pre-event activity was to set a foundation for the trip and to begin to initiate a dialogue that examines race and racism in today's society and its impact on our campus and greater communities. Given the size of the exhibit space, we staggered group departure times from campus to accommodate delayed start times at the exhibit. Groups of between 15-20 departed campus at twenty minute intervals. As groups arrived at the museum, they began entry into the exhibit, which is a one and a half hour self- guided experience. To assist in developing deeper engagement with exhibit content, all students were given prompting questions to encourage critical thinking and note taking throughout their tour. As groups finished, event organizers were present to capture video reactions of students’ initial thoughts about the exhibit content. Once groups conclude their self-guided tour, we had buses ready to bring students back to campus in shifts, again in twenty minute rotations. As groups return to campus, counseling center partners lead reflective debrief conversations to assist students in articulating their learnings from the day as well as to identify potential opportunities for action and change. In addition to the verbal debrief session, students also received a long-answer version of the shorter prompting questions they received earlier to guide their tour experience. The long answer prompt encouraged students to integrate and synthesize their learning from all components of the program. The debrief time also included light refreshments as well as the opportunity to contribute to a large group reaction mural.

Word Count: 359

Goals of the program:

The goal of this experience was to expose, challenge, and educate first-year residential students on the important topics of race and racism. Coupled with the self-guided museum visit experience, we included both pre- and post-event reflective experiences to further analyze, connect, and question Coates’ book as well draw links between Coates’ book and additional works addressing the theme of race in the United States. More specifically, learning outcomes for the program served as the concrete benchmarks for measuring student learning through participation in the event. As a result of participating in the program, students participating in the Co-Village “RACE: Are We So Different?" experience will: understand the origins and manifestations of race and racism in everyday life; experience the science, history, and personal experiences of race to develop their own definition of what race is or is not; discuss how the idea of race affects campus and surrounding communities; and articulate ways students can create inclusive and supportive communities at NC State

Word Count: 163

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

This program resulted in a variety of positive, lasting impacts on the residential community. First, the program included representation from six different Living Learning Villages across NC State’s campus: Women in Science and Engineering (W.I.S.E.), University Scholars, Impact Leadership, University Honors, Engineering, and EcoVillage. As all the represented Villages are housed in different halls, interaction among residents with a variety of academic and personal interests is one of the primary positive impacts of this event. This diversity of representation enhanced post-event conversations through an interdisciplinary discourse about race and racism in the U.S. A second and powerful impact of the program is the development of residential students’ critical consciousness about the history, impact, and system of racism in the U.S. Student reflection responses and video reactions revealed the depth to which the exhibit impacted their conceptions of and values about race. For example, many students commented on their surprise at learning that race is a made up label to classify people based on what is solely a biological adaptation to UV exposure. This program contributed to lasting impacts both functionally, such as inter-Village interaction, and critically, such as the development of the social category of race.

Word Count: 196

Short evaluation of the program:

Overall, this program had both areas of strength and areas of further development. Of particular excellence for this program, program coordinators managed multiple groups’ logistics and attention to details with great success. The trip involved three small groups each leaving, touring, and returning to campus at different times with different campus partners and staff members. Group organizers paid special attention to scheduling so that each group was checked-in, transported, and arrived in full and ahead of schedule. An additional area of strength for this program was the multiple pathways for expression of new knowledge. Beyond a standard post-event questionnaire, the program incorporated non- traditional forms of assessment including after-tour video reactions and a collaborative, culminating group mural. These forms of assessment attended to multiple learning styles and supported students’ ability to articulate their learning verbally, visually, and textually, which yielded richer student reflections on the day’s experience. However, the program also included areas for continual improvement--namely confirming transportation logistics in full, a week in advance. A last minute route change necessitated an alternative pick-up location to leave campus on the day-of the event, which resulted a few students getting left behind who did not receive the notification.

Word Count: 197

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

This program could be adapted to other campuses through a few different strategies. First, other campuses can assess and identify community resources in their local area that address issues of racial justice. While we visited a local museum exhibit, other community resources might include art gallery trips, movie screenings, or local special events. After identifying an appropriate community partner, pre- and post-event content can be tailored to meet the needs of specific campus populations. While our program focused on the construct of race broadly, a campus may adapt this program by focusing on the history and experiences of a specific racial group with historical and/or cultural significance to campus, such as a local First Nations People. Finally, this program can be adapted on other campuses by engagement of alternative campus partners. We sought to incorporate the counseling center given the triggering nature of conversations about racial justice--particularly in light of recurring current events of racial injustice nationally. Other campuses may elect to engage campus partners whose work would provide another lens with which to examine and explore the issue of race and racism.

Word Count: 183

Date of entry into database: 2017-09-26 18:27:51

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