How two faculty integrate equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice in doctoral education

DuPont, Michael
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The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how two faculty integrate equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ) within their work with doctoral education at an AAU institution within two different disciplines. Due to the understanding that doctoral students imitate and emulate behaviors and values of close advisers, mentors, and experienced faculty, examining what faculty do within the work with doctoral education regarding EDISJ remains an important aspect to understanding how social inequalities may be perpetuated or disrupted within and beyond the academy. Two sites selected were initially categorized into the “core and integral value” and “peripheral value” for EDISJ by examining mission statements, course catalogs, committees, and faculty profiles of the department and PhD program. Institutional logics and disciplinary logics served as analytical frameworks to understand how institutional and disciplinary factors influence faculty integration of EDISJ. Several scholars broadly define institutional logics as generalized rules that dictate the degree of appropriateness of behavior through legitimizing particular forms of identities, interests, values, and practices. Becher (1984) described academic cultures as a shared way of thinking and a collective way of behaving while Posselt (2016) defined these active communities as seeking ongoing relevancy and rewarding standards through their own set of disciplinary logics. A total of three interviews per participant were coordinated which lasted from 39 minutes to 83 minutes over nine weeks. Participants were asked to participate in a form of reflective journaling to share any insights or perspectives after each of the three interviews. Documents such as news releases, handbooks, publicly-available guidelines for teaching, research, service, and tenure, and professional associations websites were gathered to corroborate and augment evidence from other data sources. To strengthen trustworthiness, multiple forms of data were collected, participants completed member checking, incontestable descriptions were provided, and the researcher utilized peer debrief. This case study illustrated how faculty are continually interacting with socialization processes at the borderlands of disciplinary communities organizing within higher education institutions. Overall, the influence of the disciplinary force, in these cases, set the boundaries for the personality, character, habits of mind and heart, and general scholarly dispositions of their disciplinary community in which conflicts of multiple logics exist (Golde et al., 2006). Jay’s case illustrated the power of professional associations around disciplinary pursuits in a competitive discipline and its direct influence on a research-intensive focused approach with students. Alicia and her advisees research is quite novel in their field of study although not producing large grant funds that previously fractured parts of her field shifted to decades ago. Unfortunately, despite a larger saliency of EDISJ in her field, as compared to Jay’s, the course distribution is structured in a way to place a heavy burden on one faculty member (Alicia) to handle the teaching load for diversity courses. Opportunities for integration of EDISJ are possible throughout all of doctoral education although not equally attainable. For both Alicia and Jay, their cases confirm the importance of distinguishing collective and individual decision-making processes. For example, Posselt’s (2016) scholarship on graduate admissions committees should be considered categorically different than Noy & Ray’s (2012) study on the impacts on the adviser-student relationship. The descriptive case summaries, the implications of the study, and future research directions offer recommendations for how faculty members can continue to integrate EDISJ as a value-set, as a form of action, and as part of one’s identity as they shape and are shaped by the influences of their institutional and disciplinary logics.

Disciplinary Logics, Diversity, Doctoral Education, Faculty, Inclusion, Institutional Logics