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Working with Students from Under-represented Groups

In many ways working with a minority student is no different from working with majority students. In many ways it is very different.

One of the most insightful summaries of this situation is a statement from one of our colleagues

Our students want two distinct and often contradictory things. They want to be recognized for their uniqueness, individuality and culture. And they also want to be part of the crowd, just one of the group.

Helping students find a way to balance these expectations begins by recognizing that this conflict exists.

A second point to understand is that not only can anyone be a mentor but to realize that everyone is a mentor. But without care and attention, too often our “mentoring” discourages and dismisses.

And a last point is to recognize that no one can be all things to all students. Or even to very few students all the time. We also need to find a balance in our careers and in our professional relationships.

The road to a more diverse and inclusive physics community begins in the classroom. This is where an individual instructor can have the greatest impact and where we have the greatest freedom to change the learning environment.

What is our role as faculty?

Should we be teaching differently?

How can we make the undergraduate research experience a more inclusive one?

How can we make our department more welcoming to a diverse student body?