Fostering a Culture of Belonging

February 26–April 28


  • Managing the impact of biases
  • Reducing microaggressions
  • Addressing imposter phenomenon and stereotype threat
  • Cultivating an inclusive environment

Seats are limited; preregister by February 9.

The Center for Teaching Excellence—in partnership with the Office of the Provost, Office of Social Equity and Title IX, and the University College—will launch a multi-year initiative to support student success through professional development training for faculty and staff on inclusive practices.

“Fostering a Culture of Belonging,” an introductory approach to inclusive teaching built on evidence-based practices to boost student persistence and completion offered through the Association of College and University Educators, is available to faculty and staff at no cost.

The online, asynchronous course begins February 26 and continues for eight weeks (through April 28). The course includes four modules: managing the impact of biases; reducing microaggressions; addressing imposter phenomenon and stereotype threat; and cultivating an inclusive environment.

A limited number of seats are available, and preregistration is required by February 9. After completing the registration form, notification will be sent if a seat is available.

Faculty and staff also have the opportunity to complete the course during summer and upcoming semesters. For questions about the course or registration, persons can contact the Center for Teaching Excellence.

A total of 66 seats (two cohorts of 33) are available for the spring ACUE course. As an initiative spanning five years, it is expected that a total of 264 IUP faculty and staff members will complete the course. The course will be open to two cohorts for the spring semester and two cohorts for summer; in the future, there will be one cohort available per academic year.

The course is offered through the Association of College and University Educators. Funding for the course comes from the Hawks SOAR (Student Opportunity for Achievement and Readiness) grant from the federal Department of Education.

Upon completion, participants will receive a nationally recognized microcredential. 

“This partnership with ACUE is designed to further our commitment to DEI and student success through this investment in our faculty and staff,” Center for Teaching Excellence Director Rachel DeSoto-Jackson said. “The objectives of this course—increasing student success, retention, and persistence, along with fostering a sense of belonging—align with IUP’s Strategic Plan.”

According to ACUE, this course has been completed by tens of thousands of faculty and staff and has very positive reviews: 95 percent of course completers found the course content relevant to their work, 96 percent found the course helpful in refining their teaching practice, and 91 percent would recommend the course to a colleague.

The ACUE coursework builds on work already underway at IUP, including a course created by the Center for Teaching Excellence and funded by the Social Equity and Title IX Office, “Building Inclusive Teaching Practices.” Sixteen faculty were invited to complete this course over winter 2023 as the pilot cohort to become DEI Ambassadors.

“As DEI Ambassadors, these faculty will use this additional training to support faculty and staff as they navigate implementing inclusive practices in the classroom and across campus,” DeSoto-Jackson said. The full list of DEI Ambassadors is available to view on the Center for Teaching Excellence website.  

The DEI Ambassadors will also be part of the cohort for the ACUE training to provide additional support for faculty and staff as they complete the course.

“The creation of DEI Ambassadors is an important aspect of our ongoing commitment to inclusion, in that it provides a peer support network,” DeSoto-Jackson said. “The work of implementing inclusive practices extends beyond the ACUE course. The network of DEI Ambassadors from across colleges ensures that faculty and staff have a resource to call upon for ongoing questions and support, particularly when they might have discipline-specific questions.”

“The DEI Ambassadors are a great resource, and in order to meet the needs of our students, the entire university campus has a role to play,” Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Title IX Coordinator Elise Glenn said. “The ACUE program provides a very important foundation for our commitment to student success and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” she said.

“The response from the faculty who completed the Building Inclusive Teaching Practice course was overwhelmingly positive,” Glenn said. “Faculty not only actively participated but brought forward great suggestions from their own experiences—successes and failures—related to implementing strong inclusive teaching practices in the classroom,” she said.

Faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about the CTE course Building Inclusive Teaching Practices are encouraged to directly reach out to the Center for Teaching Excellence. Recruitment for additional DEI Ambassadors will be ongoing, with the next course anticipated to run in summer 2024.

“Frankly, one of the challenges we experience in offering faculty diversity, equity, and inclusion programming is reaching faculty who typically don’t participate in Center for Teaching Excellence training. We hope this initiative changes that,” DeSoto-Jackson said.

“So, in addition to completing the CTE’s Building Inclusive Teaching Practices course, DEI Ambassadors are asked to support recruiting their faculty peers to participate in the ACUE course,” DeSoto-Jackson said. “As members of the ACUE course cohort, DEI Ambassadors also will facilitate small group Teaching Circles to reflect on the ACUE course materials while utilizing skills learned from the CTE course,” she said.

What DEI Ambassadors are saying about the CTE “Building Inclusive Teaching Practices” course and the upcoming ACUE course opportunity:

This course serves as a reminder of the work we have yet to do as professionals in higher education. Our willingness and ability as educators to establish and maintain inclusive learning environments for all (both in and out of the classroom), I feel, is at the heart of student-centeredness at IUP. Without our students and their unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, there is no IUP. Therefore, celebrating our differences and becoming lifelong learners, not only in our fields of study but also of each other, can only lead to dialog, meaningful discussions, and stronger connections amongst each other. For those who are already familiar with DEI initiatives at IUP, the [CTE] course provides additional readings and strategies. [The ACUE course] For those new to teaching in higher education, it's a comprehensive introduction to the subject, varying perspectives, and available resources at our institution. I recommend that all my IUP colleagues participate in this learning opportunity as their schedule allows.
Janet Blood, Department of Art and Design-Fashion Studies Program
I would encourage faculty to participate in the ACUE project because I think we all truly want a campus community where people feel welcome and valued because it makes everyone's quality of life better. Tensions are so high in the United States right now; it's easy to feel overwhelmed and disheartened. The CTE inclusive practices workshop and others like it show us that with a little thoughtfulness and effort, we have the power and opportunity to make the world a kinder place. For people reluctant to participate, there are lots of small steps one can take that lets students know they matter, like diversifying a reading list to include authors from groups that may be traditionally underrepresented in the scholarship in a given field. For people who are already engaged in this kind of work, the [CTE] course provides an opportunity to continue reflecting on your practice and to up your game and find new ways to go a step further. 
Erin Conlin, Department of History
This engaging [CTE] course helped me to enhance inclusive teaching practices. Specifically, I learned more about equity mindedness and trauma informed teaching methods that can be implemented in my classes. The course also emphasized the importance of creating structured opportunities for students to learn about and from one another in meaningful ways. Additionally, I strive to be self-aware of my own intersecting identities and how this impacts who I am as a person/professor. I would encourage my faculty peers to participate in the “Fostering a Culture of Belonging” course and project [to become a DEI Ambassador]. The excellent culturally responsive principles that are covered in this course help us all to enhance our inclusive teaching practices. I have already implemented some new tools in my spring classes that include creating alternative assignments to meet various student learning styles.
—Dr. Lorraine Guth, professor and clinical coordinator for master’s degree programs, Department of Counseling
The CTE DEI course provided a variety of recommendations and resources to identify areas to make improvements in the classroom. Participating in the course allowed me time to reflect on DEI improvement areas, and how everyone can benefit from feeling welcomed and engaged in learning. I would encourage other faculty to participate in the project [and complete the upcoming ACUE course]. Communication is so important in the learning process, and everyone can benefit from self-reflection of their courses and the DEI information presented.
Benjamin Martin, Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions