Programs and Initiatives

In 2015-2016, AdvanceRIT designed and hosted four (4) unconscious bias education workshops for various audiences at RIT. In 2014 and 2016, two large-scale workshops performed by the Michigan Players from the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, focused on departmental climate, faculty search, and promotion & tenure deliberations while exploring power, privilege and unconscious bias. In 2016, AdvanceRIT hosted two sessions on bystander awareness facilitated by Professor Maureen Scully from the University of Massachusetts at Boston. In 2015, co-hosted with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of the Provost a week-long workshop on Social Justice Mediation Training presented by the Social Justice Mediation Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 2013, AdvanceRIT collaboratively hosted with the Office of Faculty Recruitment, a two-day workshop, “Searching for Excellence and Diversity: A Workshop for Search Committees,” facilitated by WISELI from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.


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How does AdvanceRIT address unconcious bias education?

AdvanceRIT conducts unconscious bias (UB) education with workshops that explore the need for an inclusive work environment, define the origins of “bias” and how each of us use bias within our everyday lives, and include interactive, high-energy activities that challenge audience members to increase awareness of unconscious bias while deeveloping a deeper understanding of actions that we can all take to help promote a more inclusive campus environment. The workshops are created with our audience members in mind through the development of detailed session plans which are guided by a set of intended learning outcomes for each session. Our instructional goals include discussing “diversity” in a broad sense and focusing more attention and dialogue on the promise of inclusion. We also strive to create a learning environment which is comfortable, where participants display low levels of defensiveness. Since 2012, Advanc eRIT has provided over 70 hours of unconscious bias education at RIT to over 500 participants (faculty and staff). Offerings have been hosted by AdvanceRIT and are often created in collaboration with outside experts.

Past Sessions:

  • ”Chairs Role in Faculty Mentoring“ for academic leaders, offered by Michigan Players from Center for Research on Teaching and Learning (CRTL), University of Michigan, May 16 2017
  • ”Fences“ for tenure committee members, offered by Michigan Players from CRTL, University of Michigan, April 7, 2016
  • ”Bystander Awareness Workshop”, University of MA, Boston, November 3, 2017
  • “Social Justice Mediation & Conflict Resolution” Week-Long Workshop, University of MA, Amherst, June 8-12, 2015, Overview
  • WISELI presented "Searching for Excellence and Diversity: A Workshop for Search Committees“ Office of Faculty Recruitment, December 20, 2013, Executive Summary available through link above.
  • "Navigating Departmental Politics“ for search committee members, offered by Michigan Players from CRTL, University of Michigan, December 11, 2014
  • “Leveraging Difference to Advance RIT“ for the Academic Senators and guests, with expert collaborator Linda Manning, Ph. D.
  • “Leveraging Difference to Advance RIT“ for the promotion committee members, October 2, 2015, Overview, with expert collaborator Linda Manning, Ph. D.
  • “Leveraging Difference to Advance RIT“ for a Provost's Town Hall Session for faculty and staff, February 20, 2015, Overview, with expert collaborator Linda Manning, Ph. D.
  • “Leveraging Difference to Advance RIT“ for Department Head, Chairs, and Directors, February 6, 2015, Overview, with expert collaborator Linda Manning, Ph. D.

Photos from Michigan Players event on 2/28/18-3/1/18

Photos taken by Sue Weisler

Sample Session Overview:

"Leveraging Difference to Advance RIT“ for Department Head, Chairs, and Directors, February 6, 2015

As part of an ongoing series of ‘unconscious bias’ education and professional development to expand the capacity of RIT to meet the goals of the 2014 Strategic Plan, the AdvanceRIT team hosted a workshop for the RIT Department Heads, Chairs and Directors’ Meeting on February 6, 2015. The strategic plan presents inclusion at RIT as an economic imperative. The goal is an inclusive campus to insure that students and faculty alike can contribute to and benefit from being with Rochester Institute of Technology. We want to (in economics lingo) maximize the objective, subject to constraints, under uncertainty. In other words, get as close to the goal as possible, using the resources available to us and minimizing costs and other barriers, including uncertainty.This goal was defined in terms of the strategic plan, and resources were presented as: department and individual strengths, best practices, commitment and tacit knowledge.

The purpose and objectives of the February 6 workshop were to:

  1. Build awareness of RIT strategic objectives around inclusion (i.e., leveraging difference) and frame them into the business case of maximizing benefit and minimizing costs (monetary and non-monetary) for the university and its members.
  2. Identify the resources (i.e., strengths and best practices) to build upon to foster inclusion in efforts to attract, retain and graduate students, recognize how far we’ve come, and where to go from here.
  3. Build awareness of and appreciation for RIT objectives to attract, retain and graduate a more diverse population of students, and become a model for inclusion for faculty and staff, and review departmental progress on institutional objectives around hiring and promotion of women faculty.
  4. Reflect on departmental progress and the circumstances that influence their ability to progress.
  5. Identify immediate-term, short-term, medium-term or long-term actions at the department level that can move inclusion forward at RIT, and understand the influence that we have to affect biases and outcomes.
  6. Identify data and research needed by departments to move inclusion forward in collaboration with the AdvanceRIT team, and next steps.

Six workshop activities were designed to build participants’ awareness around these objectives and their role and influence in achieving them. This workshop did not deal with barriers (e.g., costs) that can be specific to a department or individual. Rather, the focus was on the strengths that exist and how individuals can build on those strengths to achieve RIT objectives to serve their own goals.

Aligned Activities:

AdvanceRIT is committed to supporting campus-wide activities which are focused on unconscious bias education for our campus members which include:

  • Strong supporter and collaborator for Interactive theater from RIT's Diversity Theater that presents interactive learning workshops using theater and theatrical techniques to engage participants in meaningful experiences within the context of diversity and inclusion education. Additional information can be found on the Division of Diversity and Inclusion webpage.
  • Participant on Provost’s Task Force on Unconscious Bias convened in 2015, Final Recommendations.
  • UB education conducted by WISe with Diversity Theater, during orientation in 2016, Report
  • Center for Women and Gender

Additional Unconscious Bias handouts, documents, and presentations and be found on our Unconscious Bias Education Resource Page