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Exeter Diversity Institute

June 21-26, 2020

Thank you for a profoundly valuable week. You have made ripples that will travel around for many years and will change many lives."
Conference Participant

Are you struggling with how to engage students in discussions about race, class, gender, sexuality, and other aspects of identity?  

How about privilege, power, inequity and injustice?

Are you looking for materials and strategies that will help you incorporate concepts related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in your classroom or school?

The Exeter Diversity Institute (EDI) extends the Harkness principles of collaborative, student centered learning, and enables educators to help students learn about themselves as they are learning about others. Additionally, you will learn skills and acquire resources to have engaging dialogues with your students and colleagues; dialogues that offer academically rigorous, and personally challenging, yet potentially transformative experiences.

Participants will experience a week of Harkness discussions, self-reflection, experiential learning, and collaboration, to gain powerful insights about educating students in environments that are ever more diverse and intercultural. At the Exeter Diversity Institute, you will learn:

  • How to select course materials that present social justice themes and principles.
  • How to use cultural studies vocabulary and texts to discuss themes that deal with race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identity issues, in history, literature and in our daily lives on campuses.
  • How to use cultural studies literacy to engage students and colleagues in discussions about privilege, and other power dynamics

Who Should Attend?

Public and independent school teachers of humanities and school administrators.

A Closer Look – What You Will Learn

You will experience and analyze the sometimes messy process of conducting a productive discussion on topics that may be difficult to discuss.

  • You will experience a "Harkness" classroom as a student, studying literary and historical texts; leaders will model classroom approaches that facilitate in-depth conversations about privilege, race, equity, and belonging.
  • You will engage as a professional with other participants, leaders, and guests analyzing and brainstorming specific topics, including the following: adapting Harkness principles for different types of classrooms; handling resistance--from students and adults--constructively and creatively; coping with personal challenges for educators, such as how to find ways to "belong" at an institution, while still maintaining a sense of integrity to oneself.

You will learn about diverse resources for humanities classrooms and beyond. You will study specific texts and analyze what kinds of resources will fit your own needs.

  • Which "primary documents" challenge students to understand history from many viewpoints.
  • What resources are essential to understanding the essential elements of African American experience in the United States, and why the experience of Black Americans is important for understanding the experience of other groups.
  • How to develop paradigms for analyzing power dynamics between groups, as well as the effects of cultural conditioning on individuals in different groups.
  • How power paradigms play out with both similarities and differences in inter-cultural relations (both in the U.S. and in the world) including: Women in different economic and ethnic groups (and different countries); Asian Americans; Native Americans; Religious minorities-- Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and others; European Americans; Economic status; LGBT and gender-ambiguous individuals; Sufferers living with mental illness or intellectual challenge.
  • Which cultural studies concepts and which terms from the "no shame, no blame" language of cultural analysis can give both teachers and students ways to explore issues that dominant groups often find it hard to discuss, especially with members of non-dominant groups.
  • Which diverse classroom materials can be used to shed light onto "traditional" materials (from the dominant culture) so that students' perspectives are rapidly expanded.

You will observe, discuss, and practice advanced, specific Harkness skills that facilitate fuller exploration and deeper understanding of American history, literature, and contemporary culture.

  • Create building blocks for analyzing power dynamics: learn how to prepare for topics that evoke strong and conflicting emotions; analyze how to design specific, manageable tasks that lay the foundation for a more complete, subtle understanding.
  • Model multi-level listening: Practice how to listen on all levels, and how to coach students in developing these same listening skills.
  • Consider context: Sharpen awareness of those social and historical contexts needed for students or adults to grapple responsibly with a current event or with course materials. Develop strategies for encouraging students and other adults to develop the habit of seeking out additional contexts and perspectives.
  • Consider audiences: Learn to look for clues that a text is "double-voiced," intentionally containing different messages for different audiences within a singe text.
  • Judicious prodding: Learn reliable strategies for challenging students to take an idea further, or to expand their thinking beyond their initial limited interpretations.
  • Model Cultural Self-Awareness: Explore how one's own cultural lenses developed, and learn techniques for encouraging students or adults to become curious about their own cultural lenses.
  • Provide a common language: Practice using specific conceptual terms that help people with different viewpoints to collaborate and go deeper, together. Learn when and how to introduce such concepts to students as they are ready to use them, gradually building a common language that includes emotion and avoids shame and blame.
  • Analyze linguistic clues: Practice describing a speaker's or writer's worldview and assumptions. Identify powerful clues that betray the unawareness of a dominant group toward the impact of its own actions. Learn how to identify and prevent linguistic "micro-aggressions" that can hinder free discussion.

Professional Development Credit

Participants will earn 40 clock hours toward professional development goals. At the conclusion of the conference, you will receive a clock hour letter addressed to your school as well as a certificate of completion.

Morning Classes

Morning sessions will focus on discussions of the short stories, personal essays and excerpts from memoirs. We will talk about the various approaches the writers take in speaking to divergent readers, either in their portrayals of their own lives or their creations of their characters. We will strive to answer these questions:

  • How do we use the text in our curriculums?
  • How do we arrange these texts to engage students in on-going conversations about the value of multicultural approaches to understanding their own experiences and the writers' perspectives on the world?
  • What cultural studies and literacy terms are useful in helping students develop maps to form their own informed interpretations of multicultural literature and historical texts?

Afternoon Group Sessions

Afternoon sessions will include movies and discussions, guest lecturers and general topics.

Sample Daily Schedule

This is a sample of how your day is organized. A final scheduled will be emailed to all registered participants one week prior to the conference.

Sunday Events
8:00 - 3:00 Conference Registration / Dorm Check In
11:00 - 2:00

Campus tours leave every 30 minutes

3:30 - 4:00 Welcome and Introductions
5:00 – 6:30 Opening Dinner
8:00 - 11:00

Evening Social Hour


Monday - Thursday Events
7:00 - 8:30 Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 Morning Class 1
10:00 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 12:00 Morning Class 2
12:00 - 1:15 Lunch
1:30 - 3:30 Group Sessions
3:30 - 3:45 Break
3:45 - 4:30 Optional Information Discussions with Leaders
4:30 - 6:00 Free Time
6:00 - 7:30 Dinner
9:00 - 11:00 Evening Social


Friday Events
7:00 - 9:00 Conference Checkout / Breakfast
9:00 - 10:00 Morning Classes
10:00 - 11:45 Conference Conclusion / Evaluations
11:45 - 12:45 Lunch
1:00 Conference Departure


Alex Myers, Director

Rachel Hanson, Conference Manager

Mailing Address
Phillips Exeter Academy
20 Main Street
Exeter, NH 038