During the pandemic, the Center for Language Teaching Advancement’s DEI committee worked to put in words its commitment to inclusion. It is our hope that this will be a living, breathing, working draft that grows and evolves as CeLTA continues to engage with diverse populations of learners and educators. CeLTA and its partners in DEI(AB) treat Michigan State University’s DEI Strategic Plan as foundational to our own. We have mapped CeLTA’s mission and vision and values onto those outlined in the institutional strategic plan. What follows is our take on DEI in the form of definitions exemplified by concrete actions taken within our unit.
CeLTA affirms that the following definitions are not static. Rather, they are a work in progress that will change over time, just as discrimination and oppression evolve over time. We commit to regularly revisiting our stated values as outlined in our statement and definitions to ensure that they represent the needs and identities of our diverse constituency.
This content is best read from start to finish as we lay important groundwork in our first definition about diversity.
CeLTA defines diversity as embracing differences, characterized by language, race, age, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, migratory status, disability/abilities, political affiliation, veteran status, language and socioeconomic background including differences in backgrounds, ideas, thought, values, and beliefs. The diversity of CeLTA personnel including graduate students, student assistants, and collaborators should be leveraged to support our core mission. We believe that diversity is a strength and a benefit to CeLTA.
CeLTA actively embraces diversity in the following ways:
- Ensuring to the best of our knowledge that projects and initiatives do not contain any content or language that could create barriers for participants from diverse backgrounds.
- Adopting language, attitudes and behaviors in day-to-day communications that are mindful of the diversity of our partnerships.
CeLTA defines equity as the means to ensure that students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds successfully achieve their personal and professional goals at MSU. CeLTA promotes equity by identifying barriers to underprivileged groups and underserved communities with limited or restricted access to educational practices, spaces, resources and debates, and by providing different levels and types of assistance to address the uniqueness of needs or support.
CeLTA works toward equity in the following ways:
- Offering ways to engage in professional development that doesn’t require physical presence in the CeLTA space
- Setting individual staff goals for each year based on their unique roles and programs
- Offering various forms of financial support as needed for our programs, such as the Linguistic Diversity scholarship for MAFLT.
CeLTA strives to foster an inclusive environment that is supportive, respectful, and collaborative. CeLTA values diverse voices and continually works to create an inclusive environment by dismantling barriers and assumptions that might work against this goal. CeLTA is committed to being a space where everyone can fully participate.
CeLTA works aims to be inclusive in the following ways:
- Reaching out to stakeholders to actively seek input on activities
- File-sharing systems and regular touch-base meetings among staff to enhance collaboration
- Welcoming the broader community to events such as Virtual Culture Experiences where we actively work to educate about specific languages and cultures.
CeLTA engages in accessibility as an iterative process working toward the ideal degree of access for disabled individuals. Our goal is to continually improve the ways language learning can be engaged with by disabled individuals (a) however they encounter the learning or the space and (b) comparably to their peers in terms of equity.
CeLTA works to work toward greater accessibility in the following ways:
- Assisting the MSU language programs as they continue making dedicated progress toward accessible and disability-inclusive language courses, e.g., by facilitating a 2022-2023 learning community focused on accessibility for language teaching and learning.
- Offering ways to engage in professional development that doesn’t require physical presence in the CeLTA space (e.g., internal meetings that always have virtual attendance options, Language Collaboratory virtual sessions).
- Aligning with MSU’s guidelines for accessibility in our publications and website.
CeLTA acknowledges, values, and respects all identities and cultural differences. CeLTA wishes to place belonging within the realm of ownership, where our community feels not only protected but also wanted, which in turn provides a sense of agency and empowerment.
We hope that by working toward embracing the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to their fullest, CeLTA is fostering a sense of belonging in all members of our community.
This document was inspired by the following work:
This commitment to inclusion was spearheaded by CeLTA’s DEI committee (at the time comprised of members Caitlin Cornell, Bruna Sommer-Farias, Emily Heidrich Uebel, Lau Romero, and Sandhya Shanker) on behalf of and in consultation with the rest of the CeLTA unit.