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Session Title

1110: Reimagining higher education through a multiracial lens

Session Times

Tuesday, May 28: 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.


Despite evidence from the 2010 U.S. Census that multiracial youth are the fastest growing demographic in the nation, multiraciality continues to be on the margins of the discourse on race and racism in higher education theory and practice. With such growth, institutions of higher education will continue to see increasing enrollments of multiracial students, many who have only known their ability to “check all that apply” (Johnston-Guerrero and Renn, 2016). Yet, the social structures at many institutions have resisted explicit and intentional engagement of mixed race students given their monoracial norms (Harris, 2016). New models are needed to better understand and engage this often overlooked population before, during, and after college. We believe community building is the key to supporting not only students, but also staff, faculty, and other community members to develop sense of belonging, which is an important foundation for successful outcomes. This two-part institute should particularly benefit educators from all backgrounds and expertise levels who are interested in engaging in deep learning about the complexities of serving multiracial students.

After briefly reviewing contemporary models of multiracial identity and development, we will focus our efforts on better understanding the contexts shaping and complicating such models. This is the starting point of a larger conversation surrounding how we can reimagine U.S. higher education through a multiracial lens. The second part of the institute will focus on engaging participants using interactive activities to share stories about belonging and not belonging, and engage in asset mapping as a form of cultural organizing to reimagine their institutional landscapes, and develop tools for multiracial community building. Throughout the institute, contradictions in the popular discourse about multiraciality and recent controversies will be presented for participants to engage in critical thinking about their own potential biases (i.e., self-work) as well as how to educate others toward creating more inclusive contexts for multiracial students. Overall, participants of this institute will:

  1. Engage in deep exploration of multiracial identity;
  2. Develop tools for building multiracial community; and
  3. Apply dialogue and storytelling for identity and competency development.


Marc Johnston-Guerrero, PhD, Associate Professor, Higher Education and Student Affairs, The Ohio State University

Sabrina Kwist, Ed.D, Dean, Equity and Inclusion, Los Medanos College

Jenn Wells, MA, Assistant Dean and Director of SCORE, Scripps College

Charlene Martinez, MA, Associate Director of Integrative Learning, Student Experiences and Engagement, Oregon State University