Community College Summit - Part 1: Communicating Equity and Inclusion Through Syllabus Design

Concurrent Session 2
Equity and Inclusion Community College

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Join us to discuss how instructors and designers can establish equitable and inclusive student learning environments through their syllabus design and language. Presenters will provide an overview of research that informs a framework for more equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist pedagogy. 

Participants will also learn more about an inquiry tool to guide reflexive practice.  



Marco is a licensed psychotherapist, substance use disorder, and trauma treatment specialist in the state of Wisconsin. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has over fifteen years of experience working in the behavioral health field as a case manager, clinician, clinical supervisor, mentor, consultant, program director, and faculty. In addition to his clinical experience, Marco is faculty and program director of the Human Services program at Madison College and most recently took on the role of Equity & Inclusion Faculty Director for the Institute for Equity and Transformational Change, a newly established unit within Academic Affairs charged with promoting, studying, and implementing equity-minded practices in curriculum and professional development. In addition to this professional experience, Marco informs his practice through his lived experience of exclusion in his educational journey.
Kate Grovergrys is a Spanish professor at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin. In her current position, she has developed and taught introductory, intermediate and advanced Spanish courses in a variety of formats including face-to-face, hybrid, online and accelerated. Prior to teaching at Madison Area Technical College, Kate taught Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lourdes High School in Rochester, Minnesota. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from Valparaiso University in Indiana, and a M.A. in Spanish Literature & Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In 2012, she became certified as an online instructor when she completed the E-learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate at UW-Stout. She is passionate about language teaching and enjoys fostering an engaging learning community in her classes.

Extended Abstract

For many learners, our syllabus is the first impression they get of us as educators, the course, and our teaching approach. As a result, we’ve likely sustained the language, norms, and expectations handed to us when we began teaching a specific course. As we’ve come to realize, previous approaches were not always equitable or inclusive and often contributed to the maintenance of disparities we see with particular demographics and identities. 

Understanding how our syllabus design could sustain or disrupt how some learners are systematically disadvantaged is essential.  Our syllabus has the power to contribute to a counter narrative to structural racism, stereotype threat, micro and macro aggressions, imposter syndrome, and a lack of familiarity with higher education in the United States. 

Using an extensive research review by the Center for Urban Education, presenters will provide evidence-based practices that inform a more equitable, inclusive, and antiracist syllabus design.