GSI Initiative: Inclusive Teaching for Diverse Students

For Graduate Student Instructors, research and theater help promote inclusivity in the classroom.

Project Overview

In Fall 2015, as part of the Campus Climate Initiative, the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center introduced an interactive theater workshop to its Teaching Conference for First-Time GSIs. This was a collaborative effort organized with the Berkeley Interactive Theater Program and the Division of Equity and Inclusion. The design also incorporated input from graduate students across various departments on campus.

The goal was to use an innovative and experiential tool - along with the latest research - to help GSIs understand the connection between diversity, inclusion, and learning, as well as to develop practical tools for building more inclusive classroom environments. The workshop is now a standing part of the conference experience, offered to more than 1000 new GSIs each year.

Interactive Theater Approach

The session builds on the principle that students learn best when they are actively thinking, commenting, and asking questions about the material they are exposed to. It begins with a theater scene in which a series of insensitive and stereotypical interactions take place as a group of undergraduate students discuss their final class project with their GSI. Once the scene concludes, the GSIs in the audience have a chance to ask the actors questions while they remain in character. The last part of the workshop involves a facilitated discussion that unpacks the issues in the scene and opens a broader conversation about teaching, learning, and diversity.  

Deeper Pedagogical Discussion

In addition to the initial conference workshop, the GSI Center is also developing a manual to help faculty use a recording of the scene to discuss diversity and inclusion in their departmental pedagogy courses.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the GSI Teaching and Resource Center at or 510-642-4456.

Person speaking into a microphone on stage in front of an audience

GSI Teaching Conference

People talking at a table on a stage

Interactive Theater Performance: "Active Participation"