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Community Learning Days

Community Learning Days provide Whitman faculty and staff with access to essential information and valuable learning opportunities prior to the start of each semester. Community Learning Days (CLD) help faculty and staff prepare for the arrival and return of our students by providing information about the changing needs and demographic profile of Whitman students, while also building capacity to advance inclusive excellence. Previous CLD sessions have focused on strategies to create a more inclusive classroom, cultural taxation and systems of oppression, as well as content to help staff navigate professional boundaries and hierarchies from different social identities.

The Search for Safety: Building a Resilient Learning Community is a comprehensive two-part training session designed to enhance the understanding and responsiveness to trauma in the learning environments of Whitman College. This program aims to equip faculty and staff with the knowledge and tools necessary to foster a more resilient and supportive educational community.

Session 1, January 11: Understanding the Brain’s Quest for Safety and Its Impacts on Learning
The first session delves into the fascinating realm of neuroscience, focusing on the brain’s inherent search for safety and how this primal quest is intricately linked to the prevalence of trauma and conflict in our lives. Participants will explore:

  • The neurological basis of perception and response to threats, both real and perceived.
  • How the brain’s safety mechanisms can inadvertently lead to heightened stress and trauma responses among students and employees.
  • The ripple effects of these responses in classroom and campus communities.

This session offers a blend of theoretical knowledge and real-world examples, enabling participants to understand the neuroscience behind behaviors that are often seen on campus.

Session 2, January 12: Applying Science to Drive Behavior and Build Resilience

In the second session, the focus shifts to practical applications. Building on the foundational knowledge from the first session, participants will learn:

  • How an understanding of brain science can shape teaching methods to improve learning outcomes.
  • Strategies to mitigate the impact of stress and trauma, thereby increasing student learning.
  • Techniques for building resilience in themselves and students, promoting a more supportive and adaptive environment.

Participants will leave this session with actionable strategies and a deeper understanding of how to use neuroscience to increase learning and cultivate resilience.

This two-day workshop will be presented by Community Resilience Initiative’s Executive Director Rick Griffin and Becky Turner, Director of Community Engagement.

Community Resilience Initiative (CRI) is a Walla Walla-based nonprofit organization conducting trauma-informed training online and in person, across the continent. CRI is recognized as a leader in trauma-informed training and offers several levels of training based on Knowledge, Insight, Strategies and Structures (K.I.S.S.), its blueprint for building community capacity.

How Community Networks Stem Childhood Traumas - New York Times, August 17, 2016

Nákxtwishana pxwit, wáwnakwshash, ku wak’íshwit
(We are strengthening mind, body and spirit):
Inclusive Excellence Honors Indigenous Education
August 28, 2023
10 a.m. - Noon
Olin Auditorium
Featuring Dr. Michelle Jacob
Portrait of Dr. Jacobe Dr. Michelle M. Jacob is an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation and earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Jacob is Professor of Indigenous Studies and Co-Director of the Sapsik’wałá Program in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon where she also serves as Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies and in the Environmental Studies Program.
Dr. Jacob has won numerous awards for her scholarship, leadership, mentorship, and teaching, including most recently the United Academics Strong Voice Award and the University of Oregon College of Education’s Equity and Inclusion Award. Michelle has published seven books and has numerous articles published in social science, education, and health science research journals. Her research areas of interest include Indigenous methodologies, spirituality, health, education, Native feminisms, and decolonization.

Access Resources Highlighted by Dr. Jacob:

Jacob, M. (2020). The Auntie Way: Stories Celebrating Kindness, Fierceness, and Creativity. Anahuy Mentoring. [Available in Penrose Library]

Q’um Q’um Xiiem [Jo-ann Archibald], Indigenous Storywork
Includes a video on personal work to do before teaching indigenous stories and education about protocols

Smith, L.T. (2021). Decolonizing Methodologies, 3rd ed. Zed Books. [Available in Penrose Library]

Tsosie, R. et al. (2022). The Six Rs of Indigenous Research, Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education, 33(4), https://tribalcollegejournal.org/the-six-rs-of-indigenous-research

Wilson, S. (2001). What is Indigenous research methodology?. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(2), 175-179. [A short read that describes ideas about knowledge being relational and about accountability.]

Anahuy Mentoring: Excellence in Indigenous Methods [Jacob's mentoring and consulting work]

The Spring semester began with valuable DEIA learning opportunities. In January of 2023, Whitman hosted two outstanding scholars to provide valuable content and contribute to our collective growth. A special professional learning event with Dr. Rema Reynolds and Dr. Kathy Obear.

Portrait of Dr. Rema Vassar ReynoldsDr. Rema Reynolds holds a Ph.D. in urban education from UCLA, is a professor of education leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University, and serves as the Chair of the Michigan State University system Board of Trustees.

Portrait of Dr. Kathy ObearObear is nationally recognized as a Social Justice expert, training leaders and facilitators to effectively navigate through difficult dialogues and challenging equity dynamics to create lasting transformation and change. She is the founder of The Center for Transformation and Change, where she establish socially just environments where everyone feels valued and respected by way of giving speeches, facilitated training sessions, and consulted to top leaders at hundreds of universities, human services organizations, and corporations across the United States and internationally with a goal to increase the passion, competence, and commitment to create inclusive, socially just environments for all members of the organization.

DAY ONE - January 11, 2023

Session One - Inclusive Pedagogy with Dr. Reynolds

Dr. Reynolds facilitated a morning workshop on inclusive pedagogy that provided faculty with tangible strategies to deploy in their classrooms to advance equity, inclusion, antiracism and student engagement.

Session Two - Boundaries and Bandwidth with Dr. Vassar

Dr. Reynolds facilitated an afternoon session centering the needs and concerns of staff of color. The session focused on strategies for navigating a white-controlled academic institution, with consideration for how BIPOC staff can manage their bandwidth, maintain their boundaries and advocate for the recognition of their full humanity.

DAYS TWO and THREE - January 13-14, 2023

Deepening Capacity as White Change Agents with Dr. Obear

This special 2-day in-person event was coordinated by members of Whitman’s 2022 NCORE delegation and brought a number of faculty and staff together who share a commitment to racial justice and anti-racism. The goal of the session was to provide a space for folks to show up and engage in authentic and vulnerable dialogue in order to do the critical self-work and skill development necessary to shift racist dynamics and create racial equity and inclusion on campus.

Dr. Kathy Obear earned a doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Obear is a nationally recognized social justice educator with a reputation for training leaders and facilitators to effectively navigate through difficult dialogues and challenging inequity dynamics to create lasting transformation and change. She is the founder of The Center for Transformation and Change, designed to help people establish socially just environments where everyone feels valued and respected.

The 2022 Community Learning Days sessions were facilitated by representatives from Inclusion Design Group, a team of DEIA educators and professional consultants with several decades of experience developing and delivering content that can support organizations in achieving their DEIA goals. Founded by Dereca Blackmon, who coined the phrase, “bias is the water, not the shark,” Inclusion Design Group sessions for CLD were crafted to help Whitman staff and faculty understand and develop an inclusive mindset.

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