Through a Pedagogy of Belonging: Creating Cross-Cultural Bridges in Doctoral Programs




Fry, Jessica J.
Schell, Julie

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Texas Education Review


In this article, a student (Jessica) and professor (Julie) with cross-cultural characteristics—such as race, various identities, power dynamics, and backgrounds—offer a thesis that pedagogies of belonging, or educational strategies meant to foster a sense of belonging, that start in the classroom can create cross-cultural bridges that endure throughout doctoral study, and enrich the lives of both teacher and student. We begin with our personal stories: a Ph.D. student who is Asian American, cisgender and heterosexual, an immigrant, and a transracial adoptee raised by white parents; and a professor who is white, LGBTQ, and raised by biological parents of the same race. We each identify a parallel experience in education where a sense of belonging was borne of a cross-cultural interaction, and where key, positive academic outcomes resulted. The article then reflects on the importance of finding a sense of belonging in higher education, and the ways in which a pedagogy of belonging—an approach to teaching that places emphasis on every student being and feeling like a valuable, integral part of the classroom community—can help create cross-cultural bridges between faculty mentors and doctoral students. We conclude by explaining how to deploy a pedagogy of belonging in the classroom and beyond.



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