Why and How to Incorporate Diversity & Inclusion into the Classroom

By Dr. Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander

March 6, 2018

As our society continues to grow and become increasingly diverse, there are two implicit challenges that instructors face:

  1. Why is it so critical to incorporate perspectives from people who have different backgrounds and different ideas?

  2. How do I, as an individual instructor, incorporate diversity and inclusion practices while still teaching the rest of my syllabus material?

These challenges are not simply a classroom issue; individuals struggle with diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace and in everyday life too. But as more and more students continue to pursue higher education, there is an ever growing question of what can institutions, administrators, and even educators themselves do to incorporate diversity and inclusion practices in the classroom to prepare students for the future.

Hear from Dr. Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander, an associate professor of Employment Law & Legal Studies at the University of Georgia who has written extensively about on race, gender and sexual orientation issues in the workplace, as she hosts an online workshop that illustrates some concrete ways all instructors can incorporate diversity and inclusion strategies into their course pedagogy and classroom discussions.

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Dr. Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander

Dr. Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander

Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander (“Dr. B-A”), tenured associate professor of Employment Law & Legal Studies at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business, is a cum laude graduate of the Howard University School of Law and a magna cum laude graduate of the Federal City College (now the University of the District of Columbia), both in Washington, DC. She is licensed to practice law in DC and six federal jurisdictions. With over 40 awards for teaching and service, including the 2017 award for UGA’s best Diversity & Inclusion program, Women’s Studies Professor of the Year and one of UGA Student Government Association’s ten Outstanding Professors of the Year for 2016, in 2015 she was the recipient of one of only ten national $25,000 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman awards for excellence in teaching. The award comes from being recommended by a student who has accomplished something significant for the community who attributes it to their professor’s influence. Dr. Bennett-Alexander used her award to establish an endowed scholarship at the University of Georgia for students who engage in diversity work to build bridges of understanding. Dr. Bennett-Alexander delivered a TED Talk on Practical Diversity in 2015 (with over 30,000 views) and is the 2011 recipient of the University of Georgia’s highest award for diversity, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Bridges award. She was also a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship and taught and conducted research on race and gender at the Ghana School of Law in Ghana, West Africa for ten months.

Before coming into academia, Dr. Bennett-Alexander worked in legal capacities in Washington, DC at the Federal Labor Relations Authority litigating federal sector labor law cases; the White House Domestic Council, serving as assistant to the Associate Director and General Counsel; the D.C. Court of Appeals, the highest court in DC, as law clerk to the Honorable Julia Cooper Mack, the first black female appointed to a court of last resort in the US; the Federal Trade Commission's Antitrust Division, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Honors Program, the University of North Florida, and the Antioch School of Law. Bennett-Alexander served as a special master (labor arbitrator) for the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission from 1985-1991.

Dr. Bennett-Alexander publishes extensively in the Employment Law area with particular emphasis on race, gender and sexual orientation issues. In 1994 she co-authored a first-of-its-kind textbook, Employment Law for Business, (McGraw-Hill) which established the discipline in colleges of business. The text is now going into its ninth edition and remains the leading text in the country in its discipline. She also co-authored The Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Environment of Business in a Diverse Society (McGraw-Hill) and The Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Environment of Business published by South-Western Publishing Company.

Dr. Bennett-Alexander has conducted diversity and Employment Law seminars for the public and private sector since 1985, has been featured in media across the country, including National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fortune magazine, Georgia Trend, the Houston Chronicle, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.