Elizabeth Ramsey, a research and instruction librarian and assistant professor with Albertsons Library, is the first person to complete the Boise State Uniting for Inclusion and Leadership in Diversity (BUILD) certificate program.
The BUILD program, started earlier this year, seeks to assist campus educators in expanding their knowledge and engagement with inclusion and diversity in higher education. Participants complete the program at their own pace by attending a variety of events and workshops.
Ramsey’s engagement with diversity and inclusion didn’t begin at Boise State University, but she immediately took advantage of opportunities on campus to further her professional development in those issues when she started in 2012. “By the time the BUILD program came into being, I had already completed a number of the recommended trainings, so I jumped on the chance to be a part of a program that offered new opportunities and recognition for this important work,” she said.
Ramsey views the BUILD program as fundamental toward the goal of developing intercultural awareness across campus and creating inclusive spaces in higher education.
“Universities that claim diversity and inclusion as a priority have to walk the talk, and that means supporting self-development efforts by faculty, staff and students that foster awakening, attitude adjustments and action to create learning environments for all,”Ramsey said.
Participants in the program must complete a core workshop and select nine other BUILD events/opportunities of their choice. Options include everything from international student panels to LGBTQ and ally development workshops. Two BUILD events stand out to Ramsey as particularly meaningful.
“The Conference on Language, Culture and Identity has been a favorite of mine since starting at Boise State. It affords English language learners the opportunity to present on their culture as well as issues related to their experiences at an American university. It happens every spring and fall semester, so keep an eye on event announcements,” she said. “Another favorite was Tasha Souza’s workshop on fighting micro-aggressions. It’s eye opening, accessible, and provided strategies that I could put into play immediately, including adapting her material to create a presentation at the state library conference later this fall.”
The BUILD program currently has 124 participants working toward the certificate.
“The amount of interest in the program has been a pleasant surprise,” said Tasha Souza, associate director for the Center for Teaching and Learning who is currently coordinating BUILD. “It suggests to me that people in our community are committed to being unapologetic, lifetime learners around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom and workplace.”
For Ramsey, the BUILD program has yielded a wealth of benefits and shaped the way she views her role as a campus educator.
“It’s helped me network with people involved with similar work and strengthen my research agenda while providing opportunities for self-reflection and growth, giving me skills to be a more effective practitioner and advocate for diversity and inclusion,” she said.