CAS-DFC faculty co-authors
Mark Brown and Brandon Woler / University of St. Thomas

St. Thomas Faculty Co-Authors Broaden Understanding for Inclusion and Belonging

Six faculty from the University of St. Thomas co-authored a book chapter titled “We're All in: Fostering Inclusion and Belonging Through Culturally Sustaining and Anti-racist Pedagogy."

Academic Belonging book cover

The faculty include Dougherty Family College Associate Dean of Academics Sarah McCann and Dr. Martha Alonzo-Johnsen, Anna Kurhajec and Amir Z. Mohamed also from the Dougherty Family College. They are joined by College of Arts and Sciences faculty member Patricia L. Maddox, as well as Jennifer Trost, who is former DFC faculty.

The chapter is part of the book Academic Belonging In Higher Education edited by Erendira Rueda and Candice Lowe Swift. The book covers how the concept of belonging has been increasingly understood as the missing piece in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in higher education. It explores the need to recognize and account for institutional-level factors that shape academic belonging, thereby improving student experience and outcomes.

“Creating a sense of belonging is the responsibility of the entire campus community... Faculty play key roles in shaping academic paces where students can show up as their authentic, curious, knowledgeable, and academic selves," according to an excerpt from the St. Thomas faculty.

And additional excerpt from their chapter is:

"On a student's first day of college amid the excitement, they likely desire two outcomes: to belong or "fit in" and to achieve academic success. For many students, the two are entangled. This is especially true for first-generation and BIPOC college students, who, by merely setting foot on campus, buck a system that from kindergarten through college is designed to exclude them academically and socially. Compounding this challenge is that, often, first-generation and community college students lack social networks and guides to help navigate potential opportunities and obstacles to college belonging and performance."

The book is written for higher education faculty, administrators, and researchers who wish to enhance their students’ sense of academic belonging by taking informed, practical measures to make them feel valued and supported.