Innovations in Linguistic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum and Beyond

Innovations in Linguistic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Linguistics Curriculum and Beyond 

  • Professor Nathan Sanders, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts & Science 
  • Professor Keren Rice, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts & Science 
  • Professor Naomi Nagy, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts & Science 

Abstract

This project is intended to enhance the undergraduate curriculum and pedagogical practices of the Department of Linguistics to better address linguistic injustice, especially in courses where it is not normally central to the material. The project will begin with collaboration with selected course instructors to develop modules for their courses that integrate new material on linguistic equity, diversity, and inclusion, and to develop pedagogical strategies for making their courses more accessible and equitable to linguistically diverse students.  

This project is designed to help address language-based social injustice in four primary ways. First, it aims to raise awareness of relevant issues directly in the linguistics classroom through the creation of modules, in collaboration with professors of courses where linguistic injustice is not typically part of the core content. These modules will range from individual assignments (homework, exam questions, etc.) to full units (multiple interconnected lectures, readings, and assignments). We will meet multiple times with interested professors to discuss their needs and goals for their courses, to collaborate in designing modules, and to help implement these modules, such as by designing assignments and slides, training TAs, and giving guest lectures. 

Second, we will also work with course instructors and TAs to help them address linguistic injustice in their own pedagogical practices. We will help them to seek out more diverse linguistic data from languages that are often underrepresented in linguistics education (such as minority languages, endangered languages, and sign languages), as well as train them in how to avoid common biases in how they present linguistic material (such as how men in linguistics examples are more likely to be named and have agency, how European names are more likely to be used, and how discussions about linguistic diversity often omit sign languages). 

Third, this project will lay the groundwork for expanding the curriculum in the Department of Linguistics. In 2019, we offered a successful new first-year seminar (Language and Social Justice), and we hope to build upon this course and this project to design one or more new courses. Finally, the modules and training developed in this project will be modified as necessary to be portable to other interested departments and institutions, so that other schools and even fields of study can benefit from the results of this project. These will be available in a public online repository and promoted through publications and/or conference presentations, as appropriate.