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Diversity and Inclusion as a Classroom and Workplace Benefit

U.S. Department of Education


People often choose to group up with others they relate to in gender, race, and other demographics; but research shows that increasing diversity and inclusion in workplace and educational settings can lead to more creative, productive outcomes.


On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe sits down with Joel Geske of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, and Lorenzo Baber of the Iowa State University School of Education to discuss the value of inclusion and diversity both within and beyond the classroom.


Geske’s research explores the benefits of inclusive design in group projects on college campuses, which he implements intentionally across his teaching roster. He cites 2014 research published in Scientific American as part of his pedagogical reasoning.


“They found that working in a diverse group does come up with better solutions that are more universal, and also that it actually makes us smarter when we work in diverse group,” Geske says.


According to Baber, the importance of diversity and inclusion take on special importance in community colleges, where teachers often have close relationships with their students. Baber is part of a team at Iowa State University utilizing a new National Science Foundation grant to develop programs that help ISU graduate students prepare to teach science, technology, engineering, and math courses at the community college level.


“Our focus on community colleges is particularly important because community colleges serve the most diverse student body because of the open access, they’re locally placed, the connections to the communities,” Baber says. “So this project looks at different ways to build the capacity of those teaching STEM and diversify STEM faculty at community colleges to elevate the aspiration among students at a community college in thinking of themselves as scientists and in various pathways in STEM.”


Later in the hour, Nebbe is joined by Mandi Bozarth and Ellen Daye-Williams of West Wind Education Policy, an organization providing implicit bias training to teachers and administrators in the K-12 system in places including Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo.

Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa