USC has made an ongoing commitment to making our campuses a safe, welcoming, and equitable environment for all. As the unit charged with ensuring that faculty members and GTAs are well-prepared to engage with issues of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in the classroom, the Center for Teaching Excellence felt a sense of urgency to innovate and expand our offerings in this area. Working with faculty fellows Peter Duffy (Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance) and Rhonda Jeffries (Associate Professor in the Department of Instruction & Teacher Education) and in consultation with the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community engagement, CTE is supporting the development of a series of interactive theatre workshops to provide faculty members and graduate teaching assistants with opportunities for thoughtful discussion and high-quality professional development on the issues of diversity and inclusivity.
A growing body of research suggests that interactive theatre is more effective than traditional training presentations in promoting long-term awareness of issues and changing participants’ everyday practice. Interactive theatre engages participants with theatrical scenarios representing a range of challenging situations in a particular topic area in order to spark dialogue, model best practices and promote self-reflection.
Duffy brings to the project significant expertise and experience with interactive theatre as a pedagogical method while Jeffries has expertise in culturally sensitive teaching methods. The interactive workshops they facilitate provide an opportunity for faculty and graduate assistants to watch student actors portray challenging classroom situations. Participants then collaborate to replay the various scenarios with changes in order to find alternatives to the initial conflict. Gathering the collective wisdom in the room, participants are encouraged to address and then redress the conflicts. The goal is to empower all who teach at USC to respond effectively to these issues as they arise within and outside the classroom—as well as to help foster a general institutional climate of inclusion and cultural sensitivity.