Including & Navigating Race in the Classroom


Race and racial identity are critical parts of the landscape of education. There is an increased desire for conversations around race, as well as representation within course materials from students as well as staff and faculty. It can feel daunting to begin such conversations in the classroom space. How do I start? What kinds of material should I include? How do I find diverse voices to integrate into my classroom? Locating and including different racial perspectives may feel overwhelming enough, not to mention conducting classroom conversations around materials once found. This micro-course is intended to provide a starting point for reflecting on your own classes and how best to find, include, and dialogue around racial topics. It is intended to lay a foundation for instructors who want additional guidance for thinking about their own classes. It’s important to note from the beginning that this is not intended to be a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all guide to integrating conversations about race into the classroom. Rather, this work is a process, a constant learning, re-learning, and reflecting. We’re never completely finished learning about social justice topics. Development serves as an opportunity to ready ourselves to learn more deeply or differently about the topics covered in this micro course. Some of the topics covered will be: how to curate materials; evaluation strategies for course materials; different methods of navigating conversations in the classroom; understanding of classroom dynamics; and how to address harm. We hope you will find this micro-course helpful in thinking about your own course content.


This micro-course will focus on two aspects of creating a more inclusive classroom environment:

  1. The importance of representation in classroom materials
  2. How to facilitate productive dialogue with students that doesn’t bring harm

The lessons are organized to build off one another. It is recommended that you complete them sequentially. This course assumes foundational knowledge of inclusion terms and mindsets. If you believe you’d benefit from foundational information about inclusivity, we suggest that you complete the Reflecting on Social Justice Foundational Concepts micro-course before beginning this course.

The development of this micro-course and its content is in direct alignment with the UW-Madison campus diversity statement and campus strategic framework. The content has been created via a collaboration between the UW-Madison Office of Inclusion Education and UW-Madison Libraries.

Learning Objectives

By completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Discuss why using diverse resources can help students gain an understanding of, and respect for, multiple perspectives and backgrounds
  2. Find and evaluate inclusive course materials related to disciplinary aims
  3. Develop an awareness of methods of navigating charged topics
  4. Consider elements of white supremacy culture in order to reflect on practices like the role of discomfort in the classroom and community agreements
  5. Discuss strategies for addressing harm in the classroom
  6. Identify campus and additional resources and where to get help

Land Acknowledgement

Before beginning this course, please take a moment to read and reflect on the land acknowledgement below. A land acknowledgement, like the one below, is intended to show respect and honor the stories, experiences, and histories of Indigenous peoples on the land which we occupy. It can be helpful for setting tone, expectation, and showing respect to these communities and legacies to include one at the start of classes. It’s important to consider though that simply acknowledging a history is not the same as working toward justice for that community. Acknowledgement is very important, action is important as well.

Brass plaque in front of green trees with the words Our Shared Future at the top.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) since time immemorial. In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk were forced to cede this territory. Decades of ethnic cleansing followed when both the federal and state government repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought to forcibly remove the Ho-Chunk from Wisconsin.

We acknowledge the circumstances that led to the forced removal of the Ho-Chunk people, and honor their legacy of resistance and resilience. This history of colonization informs our work and vision for a collaborative future. We recognize and respect the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the other ten First Nations within the boundaries of the state of Wisconsin.