Dr. Catherine Jolivette, professor of art and design, is the recipient of the 2017 FCTL Teaching Award in Diversity. According to the FCTL website, “This award recognizes faculty who focus on culturally responsive teaching and faculty who demonstrate a scholarly approach integrating diversity into the classroom.”
Jolivette said, “Diversity, for me, is getting to hear all the voices of our collective story. It’s always been part of the conversation I’ve wanted to have as an educator.”
Jolivette, a sculptor and art historian, integrates diversity into her classroom by selecting a broad range of work for study and including reading assignments from non-traditional sources. For example, in her course Women in Art, she selected essays from grassroots journals and statements from emerging artists in addition to more traditional readings from scholarly journals. She also assigned an essay from LOGOS, Missouri State’s journal of undergraduate research.
“Students like to read things written by their peers,” she said.
Her classes also present opportunities for students to express their own ideas through short writing responses, which Jolivette said reveal a broad range of experiences within the student body. “Everybody’s story is unique,” Jolivettte said, “in terms of their family caregiving, religious background and other circumstances.” She believes that, “the more ways we embrace our students and the different circumstances in which they arrive on campus,” the more effective the learning environment is for all students.
Diversity and critical thinking
Jolivette is confident that the diversity of her curriculum not only allows students to engage with a wide range of perspectives, but also enhances their critical thinking. Her conversations with students address questions such as, “Which texts do we take to be foundational? Who gets to write the story of an event or time?” Jolivette said, “I’m encouraging students to think about which perspectives we privilege in our discourse.”
She continued, “The more we think about different ways of experiencing the world, the deeper our understanding will be, which is part of the university’s Public Affairs Mission.”
Jolivette’s commitment to diverse curriculum has deep roots. One significant influence has been Canadian nonprofit Art Starts, where she volunteered as an artist and educator twenty years ago. “Their philosophy and educational strategies helped shape my own pedagogy in teaching about art within a social capacity,” she said.
She also credits the leadership of her department head, Vonda Yarberry, and the support of the entire art and design department, which has made diversity a curricular goal.
Jolivette will be recognized for this award at the All-Faculty Recognition Reception on May 2.