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  • Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations ed. by Sherry K. Watt
  • Larry D. Roper
Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations Sherry K. Watt (Editor) Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2015, 264 pages, $29.95

During recent years colleges and universities have been confronted with internal and external calls to demonstrate increased effectiveness. Among the challenges with which institutions are confronted is the expectation of more successful responses to issues of diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism. Students, faculty, trustees, and a range of other institutional stakeholders are exerting pressure on institutional leaders to demand more concrete evidence that the initiatives that institutions promote as their approaches to achieve equity and inclusion are, in fact, achieving positive results. At the same time, colleges and universities are being pressed to intensify their efforts and enact more meaningful multicultural initiatives. Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations, edited by Sherry Watt, is an outstanding resource to support and inform successful institutional leadership.

The primary aim of Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives is to demonstrate that centralizing the value of diversity and inclusion requires leaders to utilize specific strategies at all levels of institutional practice. Specifically, the book is informed by the view that leaders throughout the university need access to unique knowledge, must possess specific skills, and must engage in particular behaviors if they are to achieve success. The authors contend that leadership for social change, which is foundational to transforming institutions, involves the process of deconstructing dehumanizing environments and reconstructing those environments for “optimal inclusion.” At the same time, a key emphasis of the book is a focus on the role of the “conscious scholar practitioner”—the individual leader who understands and embraces the relationship among theory, research and practice.

Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives is comprised of four parts, with each part having between three and six chapters. Each part of the book is organized around a central question. Part 1, which contains three chapters authored by Sherry Watt, focuses on guiding principles that are useful for designing multicultural initiatives. This part offers theoretical framing and conceptual grounding for multicultural leadership as a practice of freedom. Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives is constructed on a strong theoretical frame, providing the reader with a thorough overview of the Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) Model. The first three chapters provide an introduction to relevant multicultural education theory and appropriate leadership principles.

Part 2 focuses on techniques for developing initiatives that produce successful outcomes. This part includes three chapters that provide the leader with approaches to facilitating multicultural initiatives (by Cindy Ann Kilgo and Richard Barajas), strategies for pursuing change leadership (by Lacretia Johnson Flash), and approaches to meaningful application of assessment to multicultural work (by Wayne Jacobson).

The six chapters in part 3 provide examples [End Page 758] of specific higher education and student affairs multicultural initiatives in and out of the classroom. Among the topics covered in this section are initiatives related to racial dialogue, classroom teaching, student-academic affairs collaboration, transforming organizational culture, and connecting core values and institutional behavior. These chapters are authored by John P. Dugan and Daviree Velázquez, Paulette Granberry Russell and Melissa McDaniels, Kathy Obear and Shelly Kerr, Sherri Edvalson Erkel, Bridget Turner Kelly and Joy Gaston Gayles, and Lucy A. LePeau

The concluding five chapters in part 4 offer reflections from scholar practitioners on how to confront challenges associated with identity, power and privilege. This part of the book offers insights into the interpersonal, intrapersonal and institutional dynamics associated with leading multicultural initiatives. John A. Mueller and Craig S. Pickett, Mary F. Howard-Hamilton, Jodi L. Linley and Watt, Ellen E. Fairchild, and Tracy Robinson-Wood and Watt author these chapters.

Consistently, chapter authors provide specific examples of institutional efforts to demonstrate how scholar practitioners have applied theory and research in the implementation of multicultural initiatives at a wide range of colleges and universities. Each of the chapters introduces the reader to a specific theoretical frame that reinforces the focus of book, while also addressing a specific area of multicultural initiative leadership. Even more, the chapters offer practical approaches to initiative development and implementation.

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pp. 758-760
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