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Intercultural Lab: A Faculty Professional Development Series

for Equitable Learning 

Engaging Self, Craft, and World.

Workshop 1: Engaging with Self, Craft, and World.

In the first workshop, we examine these questions and practice answering them individually, collectively and through specific examples from our work with students:

  • How do our identities and cultural values inform our teaching and our students' learning? Which cultural values drive our teaching? Where do they come from? Are these values aligned with the values of our Institutions and teaching spaces?


  • Who are our students? How do we honor and engage the identities and culture that exists in the classroom - “culture” intended as a system of codes and norms, life experiences and meaning making that can be used, in Zaretta Hammond’s words, as a “cognitive scaffold”, to create and sustain community and deepen learning? In other words, how do we leverage the cultural relevance and specificity in our students’ creative production?


  • Why “inclusion”? Why do we care about inclusion in the first place i.e. what is our motivation for this work? How can we expand on the range of voices and narratives with diligence and nuance, in our efforts to complete and complicate “canons”? What metrics of “inclusion” of craft traditions do we employ in our classes? How do we engage with texts, artists, and identities who resist “inclusion”?


  • What values inform our decision about the artists, writers, composers we choose teach, especially when their identities, perepectives and language have been proven problematic and may cause hurt to some of our students? 


Workshop #2: Intercultural Facilitation.

In the second workshop we examine and practice facilitating diversified learning spaces through the lens of IU, by harnessing the power, compassion and agency we hold as educators in the interest of equitable transformative learning:

  • How do we create and sustain trust by designing cultural expectations, co-creating shared values and shared responsibility, scaffolding challenging discussions with courage, uplifting historically underrepresented voices and perspectives, naming what’s in the room and intervening assertively to restore trust - what I call “breaking the fourth wall”?

  • How can we cultivate attention to cultural and power differences, for example by asking: who is speaking? who should be speaking on this topic? and inviting individuals who have been underrepresented in higher education due to one or more of their identities to speak first and more often than others;

  • How do we diversify our teaching so that all our students experience artistic agency? How do we prepare for and engage with white student resistance, judgemnt and perceived unrelatability - e.g. “this - experience, story, artist - has nothing to do with me”, “ has nothing to teach me”, and de-center white students as authorities on their BIPOC peers’ artistic production, and shifting from judgment and distance ( resistance) to intercutural engagement and understanding?

  • When to “call out” and when to  “call in”


Workshop #3: Understanding Intersectionality and Accountability.

In this third workshop we 

  • Center and canvass the specific knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of BIPOC and LGBTQ colleagues, and faculty with intersecting identities that have been historically underrepresented and/or marginalized in education;

  • Discuss intersectionality frameworks that we can employ in our classes;

  • Reflect on how we seek feedback: In which way and how often do we proactively seek student feedback, especially from BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students?

  • Reflect on accountability as a set of resources and map tangible growth in our classes.

  • Ask: How do we enact change in our classes in light of the feedback we receive, ultimately in the interest of deep transformative and equitable learning for all students?


Workshop #4: Retooling Assessment.

In the last workshop, we will interrogate and retool the main assessment tools and structures we use in the classroom through an IU lens:  workshops, critiques, specific assignments, and grading systems. The goal of this workshop is to retool our assessment practices to reflect the values of IU that we have learned previously: to cultivate students’ agency, and deepen the relationship between self, craft, and world:

  • Participants Reflection: What are our metrics of student success and student excellence? Where do they come from? How do these align ( or not) with our Institution and teaching spaces?

  • Examples of IU-framed assignments: assignments with self-reflective and self-assessment components; projects that tap into the cultural expectations of craft and interrogate craft traditions, norms, intended audiences, and implicit or explicit gaze; assignments that connect the artist/writer’s identities and cultural lives with their creative production through diversified entry points ( a selection of student projects that exemplify the latter is here); Ways of cultivating trustin a peer critique by shifting from judgment to understanding; How equity is possible through grading systems and rubrics that map each student’s creative process, intellectual and intercultural growth, rather than a standardized final “product”;

  • Lab Practice: Participants will choose one of their assignments to examine through an IU lens to see how its language, expectation, and goals align with the values of IU.

  • Review of the IU framework and last reflections.

 Participants Comments

Intercultural Understanding Workshop

Grub Street Writing Center, Boston

December 2018 & August, 2020.

"Thank you, Marika, for the perfect conversation to transition from this wild ride of a summer into the new academic year. My brain is swirling right now in all the best ways as I process and brainstorm how to incorporate all you shared into my curriculum".

" I work with the teen classes at Grub Street, and everything you shared is so vital and I have been reflecting a lot on your exercises and all the notes I took during the session. Many thanks again for your generosity of time and knowledge!"



This professional development series is tailored specifically for faculty working with students in forms of creative and craft production, e.g. literature and writing, the fine arts, design, music education. The series focuses on the core skills, habits, and practices of Intercultural Understanding (IU), a pedagogy for equitable teaching & learning that invites faculty to explore the dynamic between SELF, CRAFT and WORLD in their creative classroom. 


Participants will have opportunities to interrogate their own identities and cultural values, as these


  • shape and inform the cultural norms and expectations they set in their classroom, 

  • their interactions with students (including experienced microaggressions and biases embedded in communication) and 

  • their own motivation and resistance to engaging in designing curricula for equitable learning and how to expand on the range of voices and narratives with diligence and nuance, in our efforts to complete and complicate “canons”.


Participants will engage with the foundations of IU, on how to 


  • create a classroom culture that honors the complexities, cultural specificity, and dignity of every participant, including the texts we read, which makes for an equitable and diversified class; 

  • facilitate reading activities and writing prompts that leverage and bring to life the differences in students’ identities, life experiences, situated knowledges ( D. Haraway), as well as craft traditions, and inspiration; 

  • design assignments through which all students wrestle with and deepen the relationship between their identities, craft traditions, and the world around them and represented in the texts we read, which translates into a more meaningful, intimate, multifaceted and culturally responsive body of work; 

  • educate students to honor and empower the cultural relevance and specificity of their own work, and to discuss the “opacity” of their peers’ work in skillful ways and through a shared craft lexicon;

  • set cultural expectations that make students responsible for their artistic, academic, and personal agency, by contributing to a community of peers that propels their growth and inspiration ( craft) and keeps them accountable for the political (world), non-neutral (self) reading of their own and their peers’ creative production. 

  • evaluate and assess students process rather than product, and offer students the opportunity for self-assessment and feedback on our teaching and reading lists.

I have developed IU framework over years of observing the relationship between social identities, craft, and the broader culture. IU provides a set of tools and skills that help us leverage our culture and social identities as a cognitive and creative scaffold in our teaching, learning, and creative work.

Through IU we deepen and heal any interpersonal, intercultural, and systemic relationships where differences are compounded by power dynamics and structural inequities.

Relevant Resources & Inspiration.

  • Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, Essays and Speeches, 1984.

  • Edouard Glissant, “For Opacity”, Poetics of Relation, 1997.

  • Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1993.

  • Zaretta Hammond, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, 2014.

  • Matt Salesses, Craft in the Real World, 2021.

  • Felicia Rose Chavez, The Anti-Racist Workshop, 2021.

  • Liza Talusan, The Identity - Conscious Educator, 2022.

  • Claudia Rankine, “In Our Way: Racism in Creative Writing”. AWP, 2016.

  • bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, 1994.

  • Wangechi Mutu and Marika Preziuso, “Is America Really Full?”, Transitions, 2020.

  • Roxy Manning - Non-Violent Leadership for Social Justice

  • Marika’s class material, selection of students work, quotes from class discussions ( with students permission)

" I work with the teen classes at Grub Street, and everything you shared is so vital and I have been reflecting a lot on your exercises and all the notes I took during the session. Many thanks again for your generosity of time and knowledge!"

"Marika! Just a small note of gratitude for an enormously smart, engaging, compassionate, and helpful session today. I come from a studio art background (in addition to a writing/MFA background), and see so many ways the traditional studio critique and workshop model overlap.  (The clips from that RISD short!!!) Now that I'm on the other side as an instructor, it's so energizing to think about (and implement!) new ways of supporting and reconfiguring those models to benefit all students, to engage with art and to develop artists."

Workshops for Art Educators

IU Workshops for Art Educators

IU Workshops for Art Educators

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IU Workshops for Art Instructors

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