“Constantly, Excessively, and All the Time”: The Emotional Labor of Teaching Diversity Courses

Ryan A. Miller
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Laura Struve
The University of Texas at Austin

Cathy D. Howell
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Emotional labor accompanying academic work is often gendered and racialized, and such labor may be heightened for those teaching diversity courses. This article reports on interviews with 38 faculty members teaching diversity courses required as part of general education programs at three predominantly White liberal arts colleges in the Southeastern U.S. Findings detail the types and examples of emotional labor performed, as well as faculty members’ rhetorical framing of the concept as either an expectation or choice and their attempts to set boundaries around emotional work or opt out of performing it altogether. This study leads to implications for faculty and graduate student training and socialization, as well as implications for institutional leaders to acknowledge, value, and limit emotional labor.

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