TIPs to Maximize Meaningful Professional Development Programs and Initiatives: A Case Study in Theoretically-Grounded Diversity Education

TIPs to Maximize Meaningful Professional Development Programs and Initiatives: A Case Study in Theoretically-Grounded Diversity Education

Stephanie L. Sanders (Old Dominion University, USA) and Mark P. Orbe (Western Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0209-8.ch013
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Abstract

At no other time in higher education have scholar researchers been called to demonstrate the value added of theoretically grounded diversity education. This signals the need for higher education to make deeper linkages between diversity education, learning outcomes and academic mission statements. By highlighting a few “TIPs” - attempts to move “theory into practice,” - the authors seek to answer the call to action. Through a case study approach the authors highlight a professional development program that fosters interactional diversity and serves as a catalyst for increasing awareness, mindfulness and positive organizational change. First, a diversity education initiative at a large mid-western university referred to as “The Institute” is described. Second, the theoretically grounded frameworks of anxiety/uncertainty management and relational dialectics theory is presented. Finally, the case study concludes by advocating for more robust professional development programs and initiatives that positively impact organizations. Implications for organizational leaders are discussed.
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Extant Review Of Literature

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has an early history of supporting diversity in higher education. Beginning in 1976, AAUP declared their commitment to affirmative action by supporting the use of structural [numerical, compositional] diversity necessary to create working and learning environment beneficial for all faculty and students (AAUP, 2015). According to Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin (2002) this position has lacked theoretical grounding as well as empirical evidence that connects diversity to favorable educational outcomes. This claim suggests that not only must higher education grapple to make deeper linkages between diversity, learning outcomes and their academic mission statements, but it also signals the need for researchers to provide empirical evidence on whether diversity programs and initiatives positively impact individuals and organizations. The purpose of this case study is to provide a theory that supports maximizing professional development programs and initiatives related to diversity, which is perhaps the next critical challenge in the process.

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