As an administrator, teacher, and researcher I am committed to leveraging my positions to create a more equitable future. This commitment stems from my personal experience, but also from my pedagogical and research experiences. I am a gay man who is also white, cisgender, able-bodied, and from a middle-class, first generation college background. These identities have found their way into my classroom pedagogy and my research. Both my undergraduate and graduate level courses demonstrate my commitment to diversity as I adopt inclusive activities and readings. These activities tie in with my research agenda, which analyzes this pedagogy, but also interrogates the methodologies of queer researchers and place-based archives. Finally, I want to advance the goals of diversity by suggesting more inclusive actions on the campus where I teach.
My extra-curricular events in first-year composition and readings in my online graduate courses engage with diversity and inclusion in several ways. While a PhD student at University of Louisville, I paired my first-year composition course with the Williams-Nichols archives. Researching and analyzing pieces from these archives, students were able to see how they functioned in their community. In addition, they participated in community service for local LGBTQ non-profit organizations. This project could be easily adapted to the cultural artifact project writing prompt in your program. At Indiana University East, my argumentative course in the spring of 2019 will collect artifacts to start our first LGBTQ archive. A film series, visiting gay poet from the area, and panel of LGBTQ community members and activists will accompany the course helping students and the community to understand the often-closeted history of LGBTQ community members in this rural area. In my online graduate courses, I always include diverse texts. Many of the students in these courses are rural Midwestern secondary education teachers who have limited experience with diversity and inclusion. In the literacy course that I’m going to teach in the spring, I plan on using several texts that expand on diversity including: Fashioning Lives (Pritchard), Rereading Appalachia (Webb-Sunderhaus and Donehower) and Writing on the Move (Leonard). Each of these texts will help this population to understand how literacy plays a complicated role in underrepresented identities and cultures. If hired, I would like to continue my work with these events and pedagogical approaches on your campus.
In addition to my courses, it is vital to continue conversations across campus about diversity and inclusion issues. As an active leader of our Safe Zone group on campus, I have helped lead three presentations to increase visibility and understanding of LGBTQ identities on campus and in the community. This year I co-wrote a grant that will help fund these events and also the events for my themed course above. In addition, I am active with the Alliance student group on campus. On a regional, rural campus, it is important that students know that I am an ally to them. While I am not the faculty advisor of the group, I still serve as a mentor to those in the group as there are few LGBTQ faculty and staff on campus.
Writing, researching, and discovering new ways of diversity and inclusion in my research has become a priority. My most recent co-edited book chapter “‘Are Y’all Homos?’: Mêtis as Method for and in Queer Appalachia.”” in the upcoming publication Queer Appalachia demonstrates the problematic nature of queer researchers researching in rural areas, especially in Appalachia. Currently, I am working on an article that investigates the locations of queer archives in the South. I am particularly interested in how these archives are labeled as southern and queer and also how they can be incorporated into place-based FYC classrooms.
The advancement of inclusion and diversity is absolutely critical in today’s universities. Acts such as coming out in class or even mentioning that I have a partner has had a vast impact on my teaching as many students have confided in me because of my actions. These personal and professional interactions demonstrate to me that wherever I am located I want to construct assessment, programmatic, and curricular measures to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a priority on campus.