Fostering a positive, inclusive, and safe environment is an important step toward engaged teaching and learning. The student body at the University is diverse, and we have a responsibility to each student to provide the best possible learning environment. The following section provides information about the University’s expectations for creating a healthy classroom environment. It includes practical advice from instructors on methods, techniques, and approaches as well as resources for you and your students as you make your way through the semester.
University’s Statement on Classroom Climate
The University has an official statement on “Classroom Climate” https://www.faculty.umd.edu/teach/classclimate.html. The University is committed to equalizing opportunity and eliminating discrimination. The University’s Human Relations Code is also available in http://www.president.umd.edu/legal/policies/hrc.html. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the University’s position.
Diversity of Instructors and Students
The University community is diverse in terms of the student body, but also in terms of faculty and instructors. Both teachers and students bring a variety of experiences and backgrounds that make this campus such a rich learning community. Often important lessons are learned through the interaction with others who are dissimilar and have different backgrounds. These interactions help to prepare students for an increasingly global workplace and serve to broaden the students’ horizons as they learn about cultures, experiences, and lifestyles. Teaching and learning are enhanced by the wide range of racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, or economic diversity brought to the classroom. Many of the teachers that students will learn from at the University introduce their own diverse experiences, educations, and perspectives into the classroom.
The 2008 University Strategic Plan states:
As Maryland’s academic quality has increased and broadened so too has the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff. The University has embraced diversity as a central driver in all its activities and has supported and promoted pioneering scholarship of diversity in academic programs. Our diversity is fundamental to our excellence and has enriched our intellectual community. The University’s capacity to educate students for work and life in the 21st century and to be a leader in research and scholarship is greatly enhanced by a community that reflects the nation and the world.
(Reprinted from the 2008 University Strategic Plan, http://sp07.umd.edu/StrategicPlanFinal.pdf.)
In support of the University’s Strategic Plan, there are campus offices and resources dedicated to diversity and inclusion such as the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education (OMSE) and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center (LGBT Equity Center). This guide provides details about the offices and their services in Part IV: An Annotated Guide to Campus Resources. In general, they support faculty and instructors who wish to broach issues related to diversity and inclusion in their classes, students and staff seeking personal and academic support, and programs designed to increase awareness and conversation about difference across campus.