New opportunities for faculty to engage with Beyond Compliance initiative

Students walking on campus
Beyond Compliance is requesting proposals for new courses now with rolling deadlines scheduled Dec. 14, March 15, and June 14.

UC Santa Cruz faculty members have two new opportunities to help eliminate sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus.

They can apply for course release to develop and teach a new course related to these issues. They can also join a faculty learning community in winter quarter to discuss how to incorporate a unit about sexual harassment and sexual violence into an existing course.

Both efforts are part of the Beyond Compliance initiative which has the lofty goal of ending sexual harassment and sexual violence from the campus. The idea is to shift the conversation from what is the minimum needed to comply with the law to a higher plane of how the university can best create a safe environment for all.

Jody Greene, associate vice provost for Teaching and Learning, who is assisting with the effort, said the initiative is an important step to change the campus climate. Laws alone clearly don’t work as the problems keep persisting, she said. In her mind, sexual violence and harassment do not exclusively stem from individual bad actors, but derive from cultural and structural inequities related to gender and sexuality that allow victimization to continue.

“I see the ‘Beyond Compliance’ framework as the most promising framework for dealing with all the structural violence and inequalities that we live with,” Greene said.

Course proposals requested

Beyond Compliance is requesting proposals for new courses now with rolling deadlines scheduled Dec. 14, March 15, and June 14. Faculty from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Some examples of possible courses include the history of legal understandings of consent, sexual violence in western art, or the neuroscience of trauma. An engineering class could develop a socially responsible game about bystander interventions or a statistics class could use data on sexual harassment incidents.

“We could expand understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment, sexual violence, and gender discrimination,” said Kimberly Lau, a literature professor who is co-chair of Beyond Compliance. “What are the cultures around these things? What is the research exploring these topics? If we could bring more discussion about these topics into our curriculum, that would be a productive way to expand the conversation and thinking.”

To fully integrate new courses into the undergraduate curriculum, the department chair will have to commit to offer the new class twice in the next three years.

New faculty learning community

The new learning community is intended to provide support for faculty members interested in integrating a unit on sexual violence and harassment into their already existing courses. It will meet four times and will be organized in a way that allows participants to design and workshop possible new units. The deadline to apply to participate is Nov. 16.

Alison Hanson, a doctoral student in anthropology and graduate student researcher with Beyond Compliance, plans to start a similar graduate student learning community in the spring.

Greene, who directs the university’s Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning and is assisting with the faculty learning community, said it’s a shift for the center, which usually concentrates on pedagogical challenges.

“This is different in that it’s content based,” she said, but also raises important pedagogical questions and potential risks for instructors who will be incorporating these units into their courses. “We are thinking about how to be as skillful as we can in teaching these topics, because we want people to feel supported in taking the chance to talk about sexual harassment and sexual violence.”

While faculty members need training in the law on sexual harassment and sexual violence, Greene thinks they also need to explore how these problems surface in their courses.

“We have to come at this from the roots, in addition to what you can see above the ground,” she said. “Classrooms are places where we look at what’s happening in the roots.”