University of Vermont

Inclusive Excellence at UVM: Building Our Collective Capacities

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The Blackboard Jungle Symposium is designed to support UVM faculty, staff, and all others seeking to develop skills, knowledge, and a deeper understanding of diversity that supports excellence in teaching, service, and research. The symposium sessions are dedicated to creating “open spaces” where all members of our community can participate in authentic dialogue, valued reflection, and expanded learning to promote inclusive excellence for all.

The title "Blackboard Jungle" refers to a 1955 film that dramatizes the complicated relationship between teachers and students in a multi-racial inner city high school. A white teacher encounters resistance from both students and faculty as he attempts to challenge his students and run an orderly classroom. We screened the film during the first annual “Blackboard Jungle” symposium, and those in attendance found it to be an excellent jumping off point for discussions about race and teaching in our classrooms here at the University of Vermont.

Faculty and staff find that we have to navigate our own "jungles," ideologically speaking, as we find our way through student fears and inexperience when it comes to issues of race, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin, socio-economic status, cultural and/or geographic background, religious belief, age, and disability. These "jungles of resistance" are why we gather annually to participate in "Blackboard Jungle," where faculty and staff inspire each other with experience, wisdom and strategies for educating and guiding our students here at UVM, and equipping them with tools that will enhance their experiences in an increasingly diverse world.

Last modified February 14 2017 08:23 AM