The President’s Innovators Reception Celebrating Innovation in Inclusive Research and Practice

May 5, 2021

By Abigail St Jean '21

President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D., and the Diversity and the Inclusion Innovation Fund Committee hosted the second annual event showcasing grant recipients on Wednesday, April 28 at 3:45pm via Zoom.

President Favazza opened the ceremony talking about the importance of diversity and inclusion within the community on campus. Favazza explained, “work on behalf of racial justice, work on behalf of diversity, equity, and inclusion are all work that is supported by and animated by our Catholic and Benedictine and values. So, there are no two missions and no two identities, they are one, and they are both in the service of justice and in making sure that we take care of one another.”

Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Ande Diaz announced the recipients of the Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Fund.

“The diversity inclusion innovation fund is a mini-grant program and it's designed to strengthen welcoming and inclusive campus culture. While many colleges do have mini grant programs, what makes Saint A’s very special is the emphasis on cross divisional and cross campus collaboration and partnerships among faculty, staff, and students,” said Diaz. These initiatives are specifically designed to encourage campus collaborations to improve diversity and inclusion for long-term community growth.

These collaborative projects were designed to advance diversity and inclusion at the college. Structured as a webinar, this event created a space to learn about the diversity and inclusion funded initiatives over the past year and allow participants a chance to dialogue with the winning innovators.

The four panelists featured in the reception for their Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Funds were Professor Elizabeth Fouts in the Modern Languages Department, Carolyn King who is the coach for women’s field hockey, Jane Bjerklie-Barry director of study abroad, and Grace Wirein ’21.


The Amigo Project: Facilitating Culture and Language Across the Curriculum

Elizabeth Fouts paired with Marigen Tapia Learnard in the Modern Languages department to represent The Amigo Project: Facilitating Culture and Language Across the Curriculum. The project was a student-to-student initiative designed to bring culture and language across many disciplines at the college. The Amigo project trained student facilitators to carry out workshops and training for students across Spanish classes, service learning, those working on community projects with Spanish speakers, and those who were preparing to study abroad in Spanish speaking countries.

To be culturally aware, create cultural empathy, and simply learn about others and where they come from, Fouts described The Amigo Project as a way where “we think the word Hispanic means one thing, but the truth is, it means many things. I think that seeing we had seven workshops, we had five students who were incredibly diverse within the group, to see them spread the word that there is this enormous diversity within the Hispanic world to me was really exciting.”


LGBT Sportsafe

Coach Carolyn King of women’s field hockey in the athletics department partnered with student Matthew Solomon ‘20 this past year for the LGBT SportSafe project to show how as an organization, it creates an infrastructure for athletic administrators, coaches and recreational sports leaders to support LGBTQ inclusion in college, high school and professional sports.

“Some of the takeaways from the program that were really exciting was our student athlete advisory committee created a diversity and inclusion statement for our athletic department which now lives on the website under the mission statement. They were really passionate about that, they worked really hard,” said King.

This initiative was designed to provide members of the LGBTQ community a sense of safety and inclusion on the Saint Anselm campus, as well as to provide opportunities for members of the college community to educate themselves about the LGBTQ community.


Global Laboratories:  Redefining Cultural Skills-Based Learning, Exploration and Research through Virtual Modalities

Jane Bjerklie-Barry, director of study abroad on campus, led Global Laboratories as a project to redefine cultural skills-based learning, exploration, and research through virtual modalities.

“The recent pandemic, among other things, has created an absolutely crucible moment in global education, really, forcing a much-needed reimagining of critical global experiences, as well as reviewing and examining student mobility and access,” said Bjerklie-Barry. Schools around the country engaged in self-reflection regarding existing efforts and were forced to look at the gap of the year in study abroad.

In explaining the project, Bjerklie-Barry stated how “the lab itself is a skills- and competency-based platform where students utilize agile development and design thinking skills to tangibly formulate a solution to a community based problem with peers from around the world. This cohort that these three students were in was 41 students representing 15 countries and nine American colleges and universities, so it was a very, very robust dynamic cohort of students. Students engaged in dialogue, research, analysis and reflection of their identified community issues.”

This innovative programming allowed students to engage more fully in experiential and intentional reflective learning, to tell their stories, gain a stronger sense of who they are and how they fit in the world, and continue building 21st century workplace competencies. 

“Innovative education and technology design if done well, can pull together people from around the world,” said Bjerklie-Barry.


Empathy Café

Grace Wirein ‘21 led the Empathy Café project assisted by Professor Kathleen Flannery, in the Psychology Department and Assistant Professor Rong Huang of Economics and Business. This initiative focused on creating opportunities for students to gain experience with empathy. Empathy Café hosted events for engagement in hands-on activities and discussions. There was a workshop called “Analogous Research to Build Empathy and Unlock Problems,” a TED Talk, and a discussion on “How Empathy Fuels the Creative Process” by author of Realizing Empathy, Seung Chan Lim. Lastly, there was a roundtable discussion on empathy and change which also included community partners for homelessness.

Throughout the workshops, students had to write down their practices and routines in their daily lives. “One major takeaway that I learned by practicing the journey mapping myself and watching people on the call do it themselves is that we have a lot more in common with fellow students than we think we do,” said Wirein.

These initiatives aided the inclusion of individual and group or social differences, while remaining active, intentional, and ongoing with diverse community engagement. “The leadership on campus as a whole can take the initiative and create an inclusive environment for students, staff, and faculty” said King.