Innovation Grant Funding Award

June 10, 2020

We’re excited to announce the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA) has awarded our own Kristin Lansdown with a $5,000 grant to help contribute toward a UW Student Voices Reader Open Publishing project, which Lansdown will oversee. The project goal is to create an anthology of student-written essays focused on their experiences as students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and how their marginalized identities inform them.

“I’ve always been interested in connecting student success, retention, and graduation, particularly for students of color at PWIs, to librarianship,” Lansdown says. “For me, librarianship doesn’t exist in a vacuum apart from the work that student affairs professionals do in support of college student development. With the incident that happened earlier this year with the UW Homecoming video and subsequent formation of the Student Inclusion Coalition, I wanted to take that opportunity to amplify students’ of color voices. Through the publishing of a reader that can be used in campus courses, workshops, or professional development settings, people can truly grasp the realities of their peers’ experiences.”

Marginalized students’ voices are often silenced, and their experiences pushed aside and minimized. Lansdown says she hopes the project will amplify work to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

An Open Pedagogical framework informs this project. Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani (2017) write that”‘Open Pedagogy,’ as we engage with it, is a site of praxis, a place where theories about learning, teaching, technology, and social justice enter into a conversation with each other and inform the development of educational practices and structures.” 

As with many things currently, the uncertainty of what the Fall semester may look like creates new challenges. Lansdown had been in conversations with the Writing Center about providing narrative storytelling workshops for student writers as well as considering other supports such as racial healing activities with a trained facilitator before COVID-19. 

“Another complication that may arise from this project is the possibility of backlash, race-based and gender harassment which librarians of color face when doing diversity work,” she notes. 

However, Lansdown is looking forward to the possibilities this project brings to so many. Some of the project outcomes include: 

  • Seeking to replace the traditional textbook in the classroom, providing a freely available resource that interrupts the current high-cost textbook industry that is systematically sweeping its way through college campuses. Many textbooks, written in large part by White authors and editors, fail to include diverse images, examples, and other representations that reflect the lives of marginalized students. This reader does the opposite. 
  • Encouraging students from marginalized backgrounds to participate in a peer-review process that mirrors that of traditional scholarly publishing. For students who may be considering masters level or doctorate programs, this is a safe space to navigate what publishing entails. This also allows students to explore new avenues for scholarship and challenges the societal notion of what is considered scholarly work. 
  • Providing insight into best practices for narrative writing and storytelling techniques through a targeted Writing Center workshop can help empower students to tell their truths and trust their voice. 
  • Through writing, students can experience narrative healing. Additionally, there is an optional Racial Healing Circle for participants to help address the pain and trauma of racism on campus.

The project aligns with the UW-Madison Libraries proposed Strategic Direction of “Engage in Educational Innovation,” specifically around developing affordable instructional content. 

The Libraries look forward to the exceptional work Lansdown will accomplish with this grant. She hopes that these stories can help build a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and staff.