Seminar Approach and Learning Outcomes


  • Analyze how difference (gender, race, social class, sexual identity, age, ability, religion) works in higher education,
  • Explain how difference works at OSU and in our units, and
  • Critically evaluate STEM cultures through lenses of difference.

We encourage participants to become responsive to their environments, and apply new understanding to policies and procedures that relate to project goals. View examples of how seminar participants are applying their new understanding using action plans.


The ADVANCE Seminar introduces participants to systems of oppression theory and difference, power, and discrimination concepts; challenges existing ideologies and stereotypes; and offers alternative and inclusive understandings of the relations of power and privilege in STEM to institutionalize equitable, inclusive, and just practices in the academic workplace. The power of the seminar for institutional transformation comes from its “sensemaking” of personal experiences of discrimination within institutions. Literature on general institutional transformation suggests that efforts to make sense of the ways difference, power, and privilege construct institutional experiences is an important factor in successful transformation.

There are a multitude of benefits to the concentrated immersion experience of the nine-day, 60-hour seminar. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  1.  Deep understanding of the issues. The transition from a cognitive understanding to an intuitive understanding takes concentrated time to develop. The deeper intuitive understanding leads to the ability to recognize problems in the workplace and formulate solutions to them and eliminates the need to seek out formulaic interventions from other institutions that may not be applicable to the situation in the specific units.
  2. Transformative learning experiences. Many participants report that the experiential activities infused throughout the seminar lead to transformational learning, though such activities are very time intensive. A re-telling of the activity and experience of the participants, though much quicker to get through, does not have the same effect.
  3. Strong connections. Our study of the seminar suggests that some of the most powerful moments for participants relate to anecdotes shared by other participants about their experiences in the workplace. Often it takes days (and the building of a community in the room) before participants feel comfortable enough to share these experiences.
  4. Thoughtful learning community. The material can require a lot of time to process, especially for those who have not been previously exposed to the concepts of systems of oppressions or who have no lived experience of being part of an under-represented group. There is evidence to suggest that such mental processing is more effective if it occurs as part of a community of learners, and the continuous nine-day format provides this opportunity.