Report on Reading Group for “Embracing Diversity: Developing Cultural Competence for Inclusive Education”

The DKU faculty, staff, and students were invited on Friday, October 13th to our first reading group on the topic of “Embracing Diversity: Developing Cultural Competence for Inclusive Education.” As the first event in a series, the primary topic of discussion was based on the book chapter “Pedagogic Framework for Interrupting Heteronormativity” by Michael Seal. This text was selected because it provides an overview of how heteronormativity has traditionally been challenged in higher education. It begins by examining the use of self as a pedagogic tool, followed by the exploration of post-gay and post-closet discourses, critical pedagogy, and queer pedagogy. The chapter concludes by examining two relevant debates within queer pedagogy: whether heterosexuality can be queered and whether straight people can queer it.

The event received a positive response, drawing approximately 20 participants, including both DKU faculty members and students from diverse backgrounds. Within the one-hour event, attendees read the book chapter together, reviewed the similarities and differences between critical and queer pedagogy, and exchanged their insights stemming from the concepts and their own teaching and learning experiences. During the discussion, a student participant posed a compelling question concerning the preparedness of professors in higher education with regards to these pedagogical methods. Unfortunately, the attending faculty members shared that this reading group was the only opportunity they had for professional development.

The event was organized by Zhenjie Weng, Assistant Professor of English Language Education, and Yanan Zhao, Senior Lecturer of English for Academic Purposes, from the Language and Culture Center. The event was sponsored by the Humanities Research Center, which covered the fees for event promotion and refreshments for attendees.