The cognitive resources for learning — what I call bandwidth — of many of our students have been and are being diminished by the negative effects of persistent economic insecurity and discrimination and hostility against non-majority groups based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, and other aspects of difference. Currently, the pandemic and periods of social unrest have added to the levels of uncertainty caused by persistent societal factors of inequality. Recognizing that these students are no different than their peers in terms of cognitive capacity, we can implement strategies and interventions — in and outside the classroom — that show promise in helping students regain the cognitive resources to be successful in college. There are ways those of us in the majority can be effective allies to our students and colleagues who are feeling especially depleted in today's social and public health environments.
Cia Verschelden is special projects advisor for the Integration of Academic and Student Affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She recently retired as vice president of academic and student affairs at Malcolm X College - City Colleges of Chicago. She taught for over 25 years at two- and four-year institutions in social work, sociology, women’s studies, nonviolence studies, and first-year seminar. Her administrative posts have included department chair, institutional assessment lead, and vice president of academic and student affairs. Cia has a B.S. in psychology from Kansas State University, an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut, and an Ed.D. from Harvard University. Her book, "Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization," was published in 2017 and her new book, "Bandwidth Recovery for Schools: Helping Pre-K-12 Students Regain Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Trauma, Racism and Social Marginalization," in 2020.
Verschelden's talk is sponsored by the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Grant.