Sept. 25, 2019
Quentin Tyler, associate dean and director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Tyler traveled to Ghana through a partnership with the MSU Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative to learn more about agricultural needs and challenges surrounding the local school community.
My hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was very homogeneous – as are most rural communities that many students at land-grant institutions come from. Yes, we had one of the most diverse populations in the state, but global diversity was absent.
As a student, the cultural norms were somewhat difficult when I first stepped foot on a college campus just three hours away from my hometown. It was even more difficult, later as a professional, when I ventured three states from my home state.
Now, for me, most of my conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion have expanded to include varying global dimensions. While all students face the challenge of adjusting and learning a new environment, those leaving families and homes overseas might likely be struggling even harder.
I can only imagine the difficulty for many of my international colleagues and peers as they decide to fully emerge themselves into East Lansing and call Michigan State University home. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon an education abroad fair that I realized experiencing global diversity was an educational opportunity.
It was through the encouragement of the Education Abroad Office and the college administration that I applied for and earned a faculty development study abroad grant. Envisioning a curriculum that integrated global diversity and agriculture, I led a course for students to experience culture alongside a faculty member they trusted and related to.
In my role, as associate dean and director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, I have been a part of numerous conversations with partnering organizations that are seeking to find diverse talent who are prepared to work in a global economy and understand the unique needs of various markets and constituents.
In efforts to expand on these conversations, I recently participated in two international experiences. In a partnership between the College of Agriculture and Natural Resource’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the MSU Department of Community Sustainability, I traveled to the Dominican Republic where I learned about opportunities for students interested in studying the various dimensions of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Dominican Republic.
Most recently, I traveled to Ghana in partnership with the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative. As a part of my experience in Ghana, I was able to visit Dr. Cynthia Dillard International School where I listened, learned and discussed the agricultural needs and challenges surrounding the school community. A prospective Spartan in a program like this would learn about the transatlantic slave trade and would gain a global perspective of entrepreneurship, trade and agriculture, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion.
As we integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into our college and at MSU, it is imperative to understand that we have an obligation to prepare our students not only for where the world is today but what it will be in the future, and that is a world that is multicultural, global and most importantly, diverse.