BTtoP National Conference | The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Well-Being

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 1:00pm to Friday, May 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

Thank you to everyone who attended our conference and contributed to the incredibly positive and generative atmosphere throughout. It was our honor and pleasure to host you in Chicago; we hope every single person will keep in touch and connected to our work. Thank you.





The final program for the conference is available HERE.



Check out our KeyDuet, Concluding Panel, and all the livestreamed sessions on our Facebook page.

Check out these interviews with conference attendees responding to questions about the conference themes, their takeaways, and where they see this work going in higher ed:

Eli Erlick, Trans Student Educational Resources

Joe Saucedo, Loyola University-Chicago

Judy Gomez, Hannah Wing, & Audrey Zakriski, all of Connecticut College

Anne Baumgartner, Augsburg College & Janice Samuels, Pepperdine University

David Scobey, The Graduate! Network

Liliana Gallegos, Loydie Burmah, & Luis Esparza, all of California State University-San Bernardino

Don Harward and Sally Pingree, Bringing Theory to Practice


Session Materials & Resources

Promoting Mental Health Among Diverse College Students: Understanding the Role of Campus Climates that Support Civic Learning
Promoting Mental Health of Diverse College Students (ppt)
Climates Handout (pdf)
Joshua Mitchell, Coordinator for Personal and Social Responsibility Inventory, Iowa State University
Robert Reason, Professor of Education, Iowa State University
Ashley Finley, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs & Dean of the Dominican Experience, Dominican University of California, and National Evaluator, Bringing Theory to Practice

Student Development and Social Justice: Critical Learning, Radical Healing and Community Engagement
Presentation Outline (doc)
Tessa Hicks Peterson, Assistant Vice President, Community Engagement, and Assistant Professor, Cultural Studies, Pitzer College
Kathleen Yep, Associate Dean of Faculty, and Professor, Asian American Studies, Pitzer College
Sowing Seeds on Rocky Ground: Developing Compassion in Institutions of Fear
Provocation Remarks (pdf)
William Carpenter, Honors Program Director, High Point University
Trans Students in the Intersections
Presentation (pdf)
Gender Unicorn Handout
Know Your Rights Handout
Eli Erlick, Director, Trans Student Educational Resources
K. Tajhi Claybren, Trans Youth Leadership Fellow, Trans Student Educational Resources
Harper Rubin, Program Director, Trans Student Educational Resources
Traffic Jams, Speed Limits, Potholes, and Open Roads: The Intersections of Adult Learners
Presentation Remarks (pdf)
David Scobey, Senior Scholar, The Graduate! Network
Adam Bush, Provost, College Unbound
Kimberly Lowe Sawyer, Ed.D Candidate, Holy Family University
Using Yosso's Cultural Wealth Model to Build Capacity for Students as Institutional Change Agents
Summary of Yosso's Cultural Wealth Model (doc)
Heather Zesiger, Senior Director, Office of Health Promotion, Emory University, Doctoral Student, Georgia State University
Raphael Coleman, Assosicate Director for Community Well-being, Emory University, Doctoral Student, University of Georgia
Pedagogical Change Narrows Gaps: Professional Development and Data Analysis For Diverse Student Success
Presentation (ppt)
Handout A Math (pdf)
Handout B Chemistry (pdf)
Handout C Philosophy (pdf)
Amy Rupiper Taggart, Professor of English and Associate Director, Office of Teaching and Learning, North Dakota State University
Mark Hanson, Associate Director, Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, North Dakota State University
Democratizing Discussions about Race: Race Roundtables
Presentation (ppt)
Abigail Kolb, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Clayton State University
Taralyn Keese, Lecturer of Sociology, Clayton State University
Students at a Crossroad: Strategies for Academic Success Program (Pilot) for Required to Withdraw Students
Presentation (ppt)
SASP2 Course Outline (doc)
Mercedes Rowinsky, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
Crystal Shadwell, Faculty of Arts Academic Advisor, Wilfrid Laurier University
Megan Lott, Academic Advisor, Wilfrid Laurier University*
*Not present at the conference, but part of presented research.
Black Public Intellectuals: A Better Model for the Whole Scholar
Presentation (ppt)
Lennie Amores, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Albright College
Essence Hall, Student, Albright College
Writing as a Resource For Student Well-Being
Provocation Remarks (pdf)
Daniel Collins, Associate Professor, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
Civic Engagement, Intersectionality & Well-Being in Higher Education: The Vital Role of Social-Emotional Learning & Development
Presentation (pdf)
Deborah Donahue-Keegan, Associate Director, Tufts Social-Emotional Learning & Civic Engagement Initiative, Tisch College of Civic Life, and Lecturer, Department of Education, Tufts University  
Anissa Waterhouse, Student, Tisch Scholar, Tufts University 
Ellen Pinderhughes, Interim Co-Chief Diversity Office, and Professor, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, Tufts University 
Mindy Nierenberg, Senior Director, Tisch Programs and Director, Leadership Studies minor, Tufts University 
Jukurious "JD" Davis, Student, Tisch Scholar, Tufts University
Ian Wong, Director, Health Promotion & Prevention, Tufts University 

Thank you to all of our conference participants who took the time to complete our post-conference survey! Your suggestions and feedback are invaluable and will be taken into account for future BTtoP programming. We are so grateful for your appreciation and your constructive criticism.

One section of the survey asked if conference participants  had an idea or takeaway from the event that they would like to share with conference colleagues, or those who were unable to make the conference in person:
"Scholarship and the scholar's personal history are not mutually exclusive."
"My big takeaway is the importance of connecting students to the history of activism at my institution. They belong here and are part of the larger narrative of those that came before them. I don't know our campus history of activism, but based on our geographic location, I am certain that we must have one. Time to hit the archives!"
"We are all in-betweeners and we need to learn to look at the world in a spacious way."
"Panelists challenged us to talk more about power & consider how to affect systemic institutional change, not just jump on the latest band wagon, i.e., "intersectionality" & continue to work in the margins & risk being co-opted."
"Incorporating service learning into learning communities for students from historically underserved populations promoted belonginess and persistence."
"I would love to encourage my colleagues to never assume a person's gender identity and pronouns. I heard a bit of that happening in conference sessions, especially by session facilitators/presenters who are otherwise very cognizant of issues of intersectionality and well-being."
"I think we have to think more deeply about how we collude with our organizations in not producing change, and how excessive attention on individual-level issues of intersectionality mask important structural and organizational issues that need to be addressed."
"Contemplative practices (e.g. mindfulness) are so conducive to cultivating "whole student" well-being, honoring intersectionality, and promoting deep learning in higher ed spaces. To fully realize this potential higher education faculty and staff need to get on board, across the board."
"1. We are all engaged in this emerging conversation and that engagement will make all the difference. 2. That 'well being' needs to be understood in more complex ways in the context of religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation."
"There was a deep sense of humanity at this conference."
"There were both strong theoretical ideas and models, as well as some practical applications that made for very useful conversations with our campus team. It is very useful to hear from other institutions about how they are addressing very similar issues, tensions, and assets as we are."


The purpose of this conference is to bring together educators of all types (faculty, student affairs professionals, staff mentors and advising professionals, teaching assistants, administrators, etc.) to focus on the importance of well-being in higher education. Through the lens of intersectionality, conference participants will examine and explore how institutional values and campus cultures acknowledge or contextualize the intersections of student identity and lived experiences, support them, and challenge them. This conference takes seriously the commitment to whole student development through the exploration of the very elements that make students whole. 

Some conferences are about intersectionality. Some conferences are about student well-being. This conference is about the integration of both.



The BTtoP project was founded on the principle that one of the fundamental purposes of higher education is the well-being of all its stakeholders, especially students. Through deep engagement in learning, civic experiences, and diverse discourse, higher education provides the unique opportunity for students to realize their full potential and to flourish.

Below is an explanation of the terms that form the character of this conference and what they mean in the context of this conference, specifically.

“Intersectionality” refers to how a diverse set of identities intersect and affect the lived experience and well-being of each student as a whole person. Intersecting identities can include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability, socioeconomic status, first-generation status, and more.

“Well-being” refers not solely to a feeling or act, but to a relational activity (even practice) of being well—as in being part of a community, having meaningful relationships, and possessing a sense of purpose. Various forms of mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being (e.g., happiness, flourishing, resilience, mindfulness, etc.) are recognized as necessary conditions for well-being.

A longstanding history of attention to the concept of the “whole student” has meant understanding students as the integration of all of their identities, characteristics, and lived experiences—social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and so on. The intersections of these identities and experiences bring new perspectives, ways of knowing, and ways of being. Sometimes educational environments and experiences are prepared to engage all that a student brings, but they may also pose challenges for fostering an inclusive educational environment for whole students.

Considering the “whole student” in higher education means considering how student identities and experiences intersect in the design of curricular and co-curricular programs, structures, and spaces. This includes everything from the design of an academic building, living space or classroom, to the hiring practices of educators who reflect the student body to enhancing experiences of belonging and agency.

In this conference, “student” refers to all types of students—undergraduate, graduate, non-traditional populations, full-time, part-time, commuter, etc. Other terms used to connote “whole student” include the “whole learner” and the “whole person.”

And why now?

Exploring intersectionality as a framework for understanding the whole student and well-being is not just illuminating for all educators, such exploration is practically relevant and essential to offering the type of transformative educational experience highlighted in higher education institutional missions. At a time when complex and often difficult conversations are happening on many campuses, an intersectional framework helps educators work with all students to develop a sense of who they are, their capacity to flourish, and their place in the world, as well as to understand what to expect from their higher educational experience.




Thank you to our conference sponsor, Stylus Publishing!