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Office of the Provost | Communications

December 3, 2014

 TO: American University Faculty and Staff
 FROM: Scott A. Bass, Provost
 SUBJECT: Engaging Students in Dialogue about Important National Events

I am writing to follow up on President Kerwin's recent memorandum regarding two important national issues that may be raised in your conversations with students: recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and sexual assaults on college campuses. These are complex issues with deep roots that necessitate thoughtful dialogue and reflection.

As faculty, staff, and administrators at an institution of higher learning, it is our role to facilitate the intellectual and personal development of the students we serve. Specifically, we are tasked with ensuring that our students graduate from AU possessing the skills, knowledge, and experiences articulated in our institutional learning outcomes. Among them are the following:

  • Civic engagement (a sense of responsibility to serve in the public interest and to social justice),
  • Cultural competency (to function in a multicultural world by respecting, understanding, and appreciating different opinions, perspectives, and experiences), and
  • Ethics (to act with integrity, critically examine one’s values, and respect how different values might be applied to complex problems).

I encourage you to take time to engage these topics with your students, even as we swiftly approach the end of the term. These issues, however disturbing and complicated, can serve as powerful teaching opportunities to further students’ development.

If you are interested in guiding a discussion with your students, there are a number of AU faculty experts on both of these subjects. The AU Experts database can be used to identify faculty and the Office of the Provost can assist in connecting you with faculty. Additionally, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion is another resource that can be utilized.