Tutaleni’s Diversity Statement
My students and mentees are often asked to provide a diversity statement as they apply for jobs. Conversations we have around what to include always make me think about what my diversity statement would look like. So, here’s my first attempt at what is a living/evolving statement.
Tutaleni’s Diversity Statement
I summarize my commitment to diversity in two thematic statements: 1) I am because you are, and 2) Learning about others helps me learn more about myself. These two statements encapsulate my ontological, epistemological, and axiological stance in academia and in everything I do.
I am because you are. This rough translation of the word “ubuntu,” reflects my belief in the interdependence of our being and the essence of what it means to be human. It calls on me to recognize myself in others, particularly in my colleagues and my students, which informs how I treat them. It emphasizes that my value is directly intertwined with others, and without them, my value decreases. This belief informs my teaching by guiding my learner-centered approaches, which ensures that each semester my students can give input in the syllabus before it is adopted in class, putting into practice my learners as designers concept and allowing students to be co-creators of every class. It means listening to and exposing my community to diverse voices as I have done at my current institution by establishing the emerging technologies and creativity speaker series that brings together voices from around the world and by striving to include diverse readings on my syllabi. The I am because you are concept shift the idea that diversity is about tolerating; instead, it aims to understand and recognize each other’s humanity.
Learning about others helps me learn more about myself. One of the biggest takeaways from my training as a comparativist is the idea that all societies have knowledge systems, that everyone matters because everyone can contribute, and that everyone can teach and learn regardless of where they are in the world. Integral to comparative international education research is the idea of wanting to know more about others. However, from my research and lived experiences, I know that not all voices, fountains of knowledge, and ways of knowing are accorded the same value. Therefore, valuing diversity for me involves disrupting hegemonic structures in academia, celebrating differences, and enabling the marginalized to grab the mic and be heard. It is these believes that have led me to take various leadership roles such as chair of the Indigenous Knowledge and the Academy SIG in the Comparative and International Education Society; being president of the Culture, Learning and Technology division in the Association for Communication and Educational Technologies; and providing spaces for difficult conversations through projects such as the “Imagining a Socially Just Academia.“
Valuing diversity is central to celebrating the rich tapestry of the various communities in which I travel. My commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion has been consistent and driven by the desire to always want to know more about others so that I learn more about myself.