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Making Inclusion Work: Experiences from Academia around the World (review)

From: The Review of Higher Education
Volume 34, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 709-710 | 10.1353/rhe.2011.0027

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Making Inclusion Work: Experiences from Academia around the World is a collective call for inclusion and multiplicity in academia. Written by 22 organization and management scholars from nine countries, this book builds on the authors' autobiographical and autoethnographical experiences in developing inclusion projects in their own universities to illustrate the plurality and usefulness of inclusion practices. The methodology of the book is thus deliberately bottom up, based on everyday practices and experiences.

In the introductory chapter, Saija Katila, Susan Meriläinen, and Janne Tienari define inclusion as "bringing in new voices, themes and methods in teaching and research . . . or incorporating considerations of gender and ethnicity" in curricula, courses, and research projects (p. 1). The different case studies presented in the 13 chapters and three parts structuring the book illustrate that knowledge is always situated in time and place. The editors, through this collection, advocate for diverse inclusion practices that are rooted in historical periods and local contexts.

Part 1 focuses on the development of curricula and institutional arrangements that foster inclusiveness. Each of this part's three chapters depicts the implementation of an innovative program regarding inclusion. Collectively, these cases insightfully address the question of organizational changes across various geopolitical and cultural contexts.

Patrizia Zanoni and Hans Siebers, in Chapter 2, study the creation of a master program in the organization of cultural diversity targeting a culturally diverse student body at a Dutch university. They identify four organizational dimensions as the main reasons for the program's success: implementation by a committed team of scholars; strong support from a top manager; having a talented program coordinator; and the preexistence on campus of a potential student body for the program.

However, time also represents an important component of the success formula. Not only was time needed to obtain a consensus among the different actors involved (department, faculty, and university) but the timing of the program's implementation proved to be equally essential. The authors consider the strategy or fortuitousness of "seizing the moment" and taking the societal context into account when launching such a program.

Chapter 3, by Mary Ann Danowitz and Frank Tuitt, focuses on the issue of diversity management through the case study of a Ph.D. program at a U.S. university. Their case illustrates the integrations of diversity and inclusiveness through strategic administrative action, and curriculum and pedagogical innovation.

In Chapter 4, Refine Bendl and Angelika Schmidt analyze the institutionalization of gender studies in an Austrian historically male-dominated university. Tracing the program's development from the central role of the first activist to the resulting political recognition of the issue, the authors chart the slow transformation of inclusion from a bottom-up process to a top-down one. "The trade-off for formal legitimacy and incorporation," they note, "has been an erosion of wide democratic participation and activism" (p. 59).

The second part contains four chapters in which authors describe their individual experiences with curricular and pedagogical innovation and change in the pursuit of diversity and inclusiveness.

Chapters 5 and 6 present different ways to integrate inclusive practices into curricula. Myrtle P. Bell, in Chapter 5, advocates the coupling of experience and evidence as an efficient tool to teach diversity. She explains how, in her teaching, she confronts students' erroneous beliefs and stereotypes through the use of individual experiences and quantitative research. Sandra Billard, in Chapter 6, reveals how she uses action research and action learning as teaching strategies to introduce the inclusion issue in courses for Australian graduate management students.

Chapters 7 and 8 address the issue of inclusion in research practices. In Chapter 7, Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist illustrates how a pioneer research project questioning the role of gender in teaching was a catalyst for affirming this issue as central in her own Swedish institution. In doing so, she analyzes how disciplinary cultures impact this process.

David M. Boje, in Chapter 8, discusses the contributions that free-to-the-public webpages have made toward liberatory education and inclusion and, more generally, how to use networked interconnectivity to foster and enhance inclusive academic practices.

The third and final part of Making Inclusion Work, questions research strategy and academic identities. Chapter 9 focuses on the difficulties of...