HRD Course Advocates for Underrepresented Groups Through Project

Students Employ Practical Application of College-Wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Efforts


Human Resource Development (HRD) students taking HRD 3350 – Workforce Diversity and Globalization – during the spring 2021 semester were able to participate in a class project aimed at advocating for underrepresented groups and highlighting how companies make accommodations for those groups. 

The Workforce Diversity and Globalization course was added prior to fall 2020 as the Human Resource Development program, in the College of Technology, reformulated the curriculum and added courses that better represent the needs and challenges that companies currently face and better prepare students to enter the workforce. 

Through the project, developed by Daiane Polesello, PhD, instructional assistant professor in Human Resource Development, HRD 3350 students were assigned an underrepresented group for their project from a list of 12 such groups, that included: age, ethnicity, immigrants, invisible disability, race, refugees, religion affiliation or spiritual identity, sex identity or sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veterans, visible disability, and gender/women. Students were asked to develop a webpage that contained five primary elements such as, background information about the underrepresented group; testimonials from individuals that identify as someone from that group; and accommodations, practices, and organizational interventions that could support the specific group.     

“It was wonderful to see the degree of creativity and curiosity that went into many of the websites that were submitted,” notes Polesello. “I hope that the students came away from the project having learned something of value and that the websites can be used as an engaging resource for other students and faculty, as well as inspiration for their own efforts to highlight and support underrepresented groups in academia and the workforce.”

The HRD 3350 project was developed during an opportune time, as the College of Technology and Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences (HDCS) have been actively engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Those efforts have included establishing an Anti-Racism Task Force at the college level as well as a Belongingness Task Force at the department level. 

Within HDCS, the Belongingness Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff and students, aims to strengthen and nurture a culture of belonging. At the conclusion of the HRD 3350 project, Dr. Polesello called upon the group to review the projects and help determine the three best websites. The task force determined the works of Yadira Batres | Immigrants, Luke Kahl | Invisible Disability, and Sydnee Vinnett | Refugees to be the best of the submissions.

"With everything that is happening around the country including the attacks to our Asian community and the overall state of our black and Hispanic communities, I was pleased to be giving this topic as one of my projects,” said Batres. “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become such a highlighted topic in the HR industry and the workplace in general. Organizations want to do more for their employees, and it contributes to the overall health of the organization. As a native Mexican brought up as a kid to the United States, I'm often reminded of how hard it must have had been for my parents to make that decision when they were younger than I am now. Researching and talking about Immigrants brought me such joy because many people don't know all the struggles that immigrants have to go through, whether they came here legally or illegally."

More information about the courses offered in the Human Resource Development program can be found at uh.edu/cot/hrd.