Bringing DEI to Life
Lab students of every age have the opportunity to engage in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work. From our youngest learners to our graduating seniors, DEI concepts and lessons make their way into Lab's curriculum in deliberate and thoughtful ways that provide students with opportunities to reflect, recognize, realize, and reevaluate.
Assemblies and advisory time in the middle and high schools provide a comfortable space for students to discuss DEI. For example, last year's tenth graders had the opportunity to dig deep into the idea of "exploring community" at a grade-level assembly. Through a viewing of Chicago artist and activist Tonika Lewis Johnson's Folded Map documentary, the tenth graders, led by the U-High student DEI peer facilitators, considered segregation in Chicago and their own assumptions about neighborhoods that they are less familiar with. They reflected on the differences between how their communities, including the university community, are portrayed in the media and in our collective narrative versus how the communities they serve in their tenth grade service learning program are portrayed.
What unfolded next were rich, nuanced conversations about opportunities for solidarity. Students recognized and called out the need for systemic change, rather than charity, in the communities they were engaging with. Assembly time was over but the conversations spilled out of the hall and into advisory spaces. Students made connections between their life at Lab and the accessible community offered at school and their work around Chicago. Those three letters—DEI—came to life, took shape, and propelled our tenth graders into action.
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