$1M in public funds to MSU for ‘Anti-Racist Education’ and 'Decentering Whiteness'

Michigan State University’s Learning Communities bring educators together to discuss topics such as "anti-racist" pedagogy and social justice.

The program is reportedly being funded with $1 million in taxpayer money.

Michigan State University was provided $1 million in taxpayer money to support Learning Communities for educators. 

Michigan Capitol Confidential reported that figure, stating that the money was designated for the university’s Hub for Innovation, reportedly to “promote learning communities.”

Program Director Dr. Michael Lockett described the communities as autonomous with a focus on academic freedom. “Once a community is funded, our interventions in their work only take place at the most basic administrative level,” Dr. Lockett said in a public statement

The programs are facilitated by MSU professors and administrators to bring educators together and stimulate discussion regarding curriculum and pedagogy, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential.

One of the communities is titled ‘Anti-Racist Educator Dialogue Group’ and is recommended for those who “identify as white.” The objective of the group is assisting educators in “enacting anti-racist pedagogy and decentering whiteness in their work.”

[RELATED: ’Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education’ commits 11 universities to a $377k undertaking]

The communities also focus on integrating social justice in engineering courses and medical education. The Engineering and Social Justice community focuses on “the intersection of social work policy, social justice and engineering by exploring the spaces of technical and social innovation.” 

According to the description of the “Teaching for Equity and Social Justice in Medical Education” community, educators are asked to “consider equity and social justice in the context of clinical decisions and identify teaching practices medical educators can utilize to teach students how to do the same.” 

[RELATED: ’Anti-Racist Studies’ major debuts at NH college]

Other 2021-2022 Learning Communities include, Feminist Community-Engagement Disrupted, Mindful Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and Community-building in the classroom: Including DEI principles as part of the curriculum. 

As of fall 2020, MSU’s Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology currently hosts over 30 Learning Communities, which represent 300 faculty members, according to Lockett. 

Campus Reform reached out to MSU, Lockett, and Learning Community facilitators for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the $1 million was designated to the Hub, which supports Learning Communities. “A Learning Communities’ group can receive up to $500 and the average amount distributed was $460,” a university official told Campus Reform.