ACUE’s Fostering a Culture of Belonging Syllabus

Table of Contents


Welcome to your ACUE course in Fostering a Culture of Belonging. Consider this a mini graduate course in which you will dedicate 2-3 hours per week engaging with the material, implementing inclusive practices, and composing a written reflection. Each module provides you with various research-based practices designed to increase a sense of belonging across your campus community. Among these, you will select and implement the practice(s) that best suits your goals and your position. The ACUE course is also community-based, and you will have many opportunities to learn from and share ideas with your colleagues about the practices you are learning. Your facilitator will guide you through the modules and help to create an environment where questions, conversation, and learning are valued.

Facilitator Corner

Some of the ways your facilitator provides guidance and encouragement are by:

Course Overview

To earn the course badge, you will complete four modules, which taken together address the knowledge and skills needed to create more inclusive campus environments. As you engage with each module, you will view videos of inclusive practices featuring faculty, staff, administrators, and students from a wide variety of colleges and universities, as well as experts in the fields of teaching and learning and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. A set of resources designed to help you implement practices and deepen your learning is available, and you will have opportunities to participate in thought-provoking discussions to learn with and from your colleagues. Finally, you will reflect and write about your experiences implementing new inclusive practices. Your reflections will be reviewed by an ACUE National Reader.

Complete the following to earn a badge for each module:

Module Components

The following table provides a description of the module components.

Module ComponentDescription
IntroductionPiques your interest and gets you thinking about and relating to the module topics
Learning ObjectivesStates what you will learn as well as the practices you can choose to implement
Expert InsightsDelves deeper into some of the module’s practices with further explanations, supporting research, and commentary by nationally recognized experts in the field
Course DemonstrationsShows the effective practices recommended in the module being implemented by instructors, staff, and administrators from across the country in authentic settings
Implementation ResourcesProvides step-by-step guidance, course resources, and examples designed to help you implement module practices; resources are downloadable
Common Challenges & MisconceptionsProvides research-based clarifications and suggestions for addressing common challenges and misconceptions
Observe & AnalyzeShowcases instructors, staff, and administrators using practices with different levels of proficiency and provides an opportunity to discuss the module practices more deeply with your colleagues
Practice & Reflect IServes as the culminating activity where you implement a research-based practice that you learned in the module and then reflect upon it
Practice & Reflect IIProvides an opportunity to think about what you learned, what you implemented, and what you may implement in the future
Note to Future SelfProvides the opportunity for you to note any practices, resources, or insights that resonated as you worked through the module. These notes are available on the “What’s Next Report”.
ReferencesProvides a list of instructors, staff, administrators, and experts featured in the module and a list of sources used for module content

Course Learning Objectives

Completing this course provides you with the following opportunities to:

Module Names and Descriptions

A truly inclusive and equitable campus environment can be created when campus faculty, staff, and administrators work together, with a common language, to mitigate the impact of implicit bias, microaggressions, imposter phenomenon, and stereotype threat. These topics are recognized in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) research as impactful on both students’ and colleagues’ sense of belonging.

Managing the Impact of Biases

Reducing Microaggressions

Course-takers will reflect on and further examine how their own unconscious or implicit biases can affect the work they do. In addition, course-takers also learn specific practices for managing the impact of implicit biases to foster a greater sense of belonging for students, faculty, staff, and administrators which includes practices for gathering and using feedback to continually improve their work as well as how to approach the community from an asset-based mindset.
Course-takers will consider the impact of microaggressions while also learning to recognize, effectively respond to, and mitigate the impact of microaggressions. The module includes specific practices instructors and staff can use to help others recognize and respond to microaggressions.

Addressing Imposter Phenomenon and Stereotype Threat

Cultivating an Inclusive Environment

Course-takers will learn to recognize indicators of imposter phenomenon and stereotype threat in themselves and others and will acquire specific practices designed to reduce the impact of both, including practices shown to foster a sense of belonging as well as promote a growth mindset.
Course-takers learn practices for creating a more inclusive environment that fosters a sense of belonging for students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Module practices include the need to share a broad diversity of campus resources with students and colleagues to foster a sense of belonging, showing respect for diverse identities and ideas, creating conditions for productive dialogue, and ensuring that courses, programming, and the campus environment are accessible for all students, families, and the community.

The Power of Reflection

ACUE’s model is grounded in the evidence-based process of becoming reflective practitioners. At its core, it is a community-based engagement process that involves learning about, reflecting on, applying, and adjusting the use of evidence-based diversity and inclusion practices. Course-takers who invest fully in the reflective process are most successful at transforming their practices and thereby impacting student outcomes and the success of colleagues. Committing to inclusive practices is likely a lifelong endeavor involving learning, reflecting, implementing, and adjusting our approaches.

“The only way you’re going to learn something new is to do it. You have to apply what you’ve learned . . . then reflect on what worked well, what needs tweaking in the future, what [you’ve] missed. . .”—Stephen Brookfield

Circular flowchart with the values Learn Implement Reflect Adjust

“I’ve learned a great deal in this course about how to approach all individuals from all backgrounds with an equity-minded perspective and how to avoid allowing my biases to dictate how I view individuals. Also, I believe that this is an excellent first step toward change and should be made available to everyone at the college.”—ACUE course-taker

Practice and Reflect

Each module presents a variety of inclusive practices, and prior to implementing a practice you should review the rubric and download the Reflection Guide. The Reflection Guide is a Microsoft Word document that you will use to type your reflection assignment and upload as your Practice & Reflect I: Reflection Assignment submission. Using the Reflection Guide provided for each module is the best way to ensure that all rubric requirements are met.

After submitting the written reflection, you will complete a survey about the module experience as a whole. You will be asked to think about what you learned during the module, what you implemented, and what you will implement in the future.

Example: Reducing Microaggressions: Implementation Reflection Guide

Sample Implementation Guide for Reducing Microaggressions
CriteriaGrading GuideYour reflection
Which of the practices shared by the experts and faculty in this module were implemented?Meets: Describes the practice(s) implemented and explains why they were selectedI chose to implement the practice of addressing a microaggression. In a meeting with my reporting graduate assistant discussing a student’s academic performance, I began to notice that he was using incorrect pronouns for a student who uses they/them pronouns. I felt it was important for the GA to be aware of the fact that they were using improper pronouns.
 Exceeds: Includes an explanation of the steps taken to implement the practice(s) selected 
What impact did this practice have on others?Meets: Shares how this practice impacted othersWhile my student may not have been present for the interaction, I hope that it will be a positive impact for them to have the correct pronouns known by all members of our support team in the future. I also believe my GA learned in that moment to be more aware of respecting a student’s pronouns, or to be more aware to take notice of them when they are told to us.
 Exceeds: Shares why the impact took place 
What other steps will you take to continue to reduce microaggressions?Meets: Shares the steps that will be takenIn the future I hope to be able to be bold enough to correct microaggressions when they happen even if the offending person is present. While it is not always comfortable to address them openly, further conversation can always start with a simple comment like “What did you mean by that?”
 Exceeds: Shares why these steps will be taken 

“Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an outcome.”—Arthur Chan

Summary Discussion

After the final course module, your cohort will participate in a summary discussion, which allows you additional time to learn from your cohort colleagues. This is the ideal time to share what you implemented and to solicit and provide comments to colleagues. The content in the course is enhanced greatly by the interactions you have with your cohort colleagues.

The summary discussions may take place in one of three ways:

  1. as a live virtual event offered through a web-conferencing tool
  2. in your ACUE Canvas course in a discussion forum
  3. as a face-to-face event on your campus led by your campus-based facilitator

Community Building

Although this course takes place online, community building is an important component for meeting our course outcomes. To ensure a productive and collegial learning experience for all course-takers, we need everyone to do their best to engage in the following behaviors:

Consider the Impact

Take a moment as you begin this journey to consider the impact this course can have for you and your campus community. The course is not graded, but there are minimum requirements for earning the certificate. Like all endeavors, the levels of growth, personal satisfaction, and impact resulting from engaging in the course are tied directly to your level of effort. Here are some quotes shared by course-takers:

This is very good course. I recommend that anyone serving in an education role (administrators, staff, faculty) take this course. I think the biggest impact is that I need to be more aware of these issues in the classroom and at work. Also, that what seems like small events can have a huge impact on students. Students will benefit from my being enlightened by this course. Diversity and inclusion are the most important part of what we do here. The modules covering growth mindset and imposter syndrome have been very effective. This course has been instrumental for me in terms of keeping the momentum going to create equitable learning environments. This has been the most important PD in which I have participated. This course empowered me to take chances.

How to Be Successful in This Course

The first step in being successful in an ACUE course is to start strong. Consider the goals you have for engaging in this course as you determine how to allocate time to complete course requirements. Like most of our roles, there are deadlines we must meet, and in ACUE courses it is a requirement to complete the Start Here module before the drop date, which is two weeks after the course start date.

Course-takers surveyed have shared that it takes on average 6 hours to successfully complete each module. The Module Time chart below provides a visual representation of the typical time spent completing a module, followed by an example weekly schedule.

Pie chart of Module Time 40% Engage with module content 15% Engage and contribute to discussions with colleagues 20% Plan and implement a practice 25% Complete a written reflection and survey

Example Weekly Schedule

Day Task
The first week
  • Engage in module content and begin thinking and planning where you can implement a practice from the module.
  • Contribute to and engage in Observe & Analyze discussion.
Monday – Tuesday of the second week
  • Return to the Observe & Analyze discussion to more deeply engage in the conversation.
  • Consider implementation of new inclusive practices.
Wednesday – Sunday of the second week
  • Implement a new practice.
  • Submit reflection (P&R I) and complete survey (P&R II).

Life Happens

Due dates for every module are provided on the course schedule and posted in Canvas. However, we recognize that sometimes things come up, such as conferences, new committee assignments, and personal events. Or sometimes it is necessary to wait an extra week to implement a practice effectively. In these instances, we recommend you contact your course facilitator to let them know that you will submit module work after the due date.

Course Resources

Resources for your ACUE course
Course GuideProvides a comprehensive list of answers to frequently asked questions, implementation planning guides, and information about ACUE; located in your ACUE Canvas as part of the course’s navigation menu
Course FacilitatorServes as the guide and mentor, assisting course-takers as they learn about, implement, and reflect on inclusive practices
ACUE Technical SupportProvides technical support at You can also use the Help > Report a Problem in Canvas to access ACUE support.
ACUE ReaderUses the rubric to score Practice & Reflect I written reflections within three business days after the module due
ACUE Academic DirectorCollaborates with course facilitator to encourage implementation and ensure course-taker success
ACUE Content FeedbackProvides opportunity to send content-related suggestions and concerns to the team responsible for creating ACUE courses at You may also use this email address to request permission to use resources from the course.
Community of Professional PracticeServes to sustain the development and application of research-based practices during the course and after its completion
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”—Alfred Mercier

Course Schedule

Each module’s start and due date is located on the course schedule that can be found on the Syllabus page in Canvas.