Year in Review 2015-2016

The Players are viewed as an on-campus resource skilled in encouraging critical reflection and facilitating strategy-focused dialogues about a range of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) issues. Throughout 2015-2016 they assisted units across campus in starting or deepening such conversations among members of their communities. The scope of assistance encompasses not only performances of sketches and facilitation of audience discussions, but also pre-performance planning dialogues adn post-event debriefs. A notable collaboration with the College of Engineering entailed the creation of a 'special topics' dinner series, at which invited faculty came together to collectively consider their responsibility for creating inclusive climates in different domains of their professional lives. One area explored in this series was role-appropriate ways instructors could support students facing mental health challenges, and the Players revisited this topic throughout the year with groups of GSIs, faculty, and campus leaders. Retrospective pre- and post- self-assessments indicate that participants left these sessions with a greater understanding of resources available to them and their students and increased confidence in their ability to navigate interactions of this kind productively. 
During the winter of 2016, the Players developed new work in anticipation of the operationalization of units' DE&I plans in 2016-2017. Piloted at Newnan Advising Center and premiered as the kick-off for CRLT's inaugural May Inclusive Teaching @ Michigan series, A Thousand Cuts invites instructors to consider the many kinds of interactions that shape students' sense of the university's campus climate and then to wrestle with what ally behavior might look like from within their instructional roles. Response to these performances was so positive that 10 sessions of this material have already been requested for the coming academic year.
A request from Michigan State University sparked the development of other new work that will ultimately benefit U-M's own medical students. A series of vignettes paired with role plays prompt medical educators from practices and hospitals across the state to engage thoughtfully with the challenges of providing productive feedback to students, especially when those students vary in the stage of their program, as well as their attentiveness to interpersonal dynamics and the identities of patients and staff in clinical settings.
In addition to visiting other campuses, the Players engaged with academic leaders from Berkeley, Caltech, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, UPenn, University of Wisconsin, and Yale at an evening gathering hosted by U-M's ADVANCE program. Snippets from the Players' repertoire illuminated a discussion of their approach to diversity programming. Princeton and Stanford subsequently booked the Players for performances on their campuses in 2016-2017. 
In the 2015-2016 academic year, the CRLT Players performed 36 times on campus for over 2,500 audience members. The Players also continue to be a national resource, recognized for their unique ability to spark productive discussions about issues of classroom and institutional climate. This year they performed at the following five campuses:
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Michigan State University
  • Notre Dame
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County