Understanding Implicit Bias Certification Program

Beginning in the Fall of 2020, this program will move to a completely online model. The new version of this program will consist of five online modules focusing on:

Module 1: Why Talk About Race? Systemic Racism in the US Context - This module will deepen understanding of individual, structural and systemic racism, and increase our understanding of the impact of racism and oppression on our society, as well as on all of us.

Module 2: Inclusive Environments - This module highlights the difference between the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion, and helps participants recognize the barriers to inclusion and what our roles are in creating more inclusive environments.

Module 3: Identity - This module explores the concept of identity and intersectionality, with particular attention to the lenses through which we view the world, the impact of power and privilege and the narratives that we unconsciously

Module 4: Implicit Bias and Microaggressions - This module investigates explicit and implicit bias, microaggressions and their impact, and how we can address and mitigate the effects of bias.

Module 5: Taking Action - Considering all of the topics covered in this program, this module brings together how we as individuals, as well as collectively in our community, can employ strategies that improve the inclusivity of our environments. This includes topics such as allyship, bystander intervention, elements of racial literacy and coping with racial stress, and practical approaches to difficult conversations and apologies.


In addition to pre-recorded segments, participants are asked to explore various articles, videos and other resources, participate in reflective activities, and engage in synchronous online discussions. We will once again be partnering with MSU Human Resources to offer cohorts for individuals who wish to participate in the program, and we will also offer an option for units who wish to go through the experience together.

For more information, please contact Dr. Patti Stewart

This series of three courses allows participants to experience thoroughly examined implicit bias and begin the work of interrupting their own biases as well as those embedded within systems at MSU. We all play a role in MSU's ambition to achieve excellence through full participation, and this program will give you the tools to make a difference.

Upon certification, participants will:

  • Understand the lenses through which they see and experience the world, and how those lenses can be tinged with unconscious, implicit bias.
  • Have an understanding of power dynamics and privilege, and the barriers they create for full participation.
  • Be able to identify implicit bias and microaggressions when they play out in real life, and how to begin the work of interrupting them.
  • Have an increased sense of their own biases and a plan for continued self-education.
  • Better understand the challenges MSU faces in retaining top talent, and how you will contribute to an inclusive campus that opens doors to full participation.

How to Sign Up:

To sign up for this certificate series, search for the Implicit Bias Certificate in EBS under the My Career and Training section.

You must sign up for all three courses individually. All three courses must be completed in sequence to receive the certificate.

If you are interested in hosting a training for your unit or department, e-mail or call 517-353-4563 to connect with the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.


Course 1: Creating an Inclusive Environment

This interactive session is divided into three segments. In the first part of the program, participants will work to understand and identify categories associated with the various labels we apply to ourselves and others in our everyday lives. In the second portion of the program, participants will consider the ways in which these categories apply to themselves and how this shapes their interactions with others. The final portion of the program will introduce participants to a team-building exercise designed to enhance self-awareness and bridge connections.

Course 2: Introduction to Implicit Bias and Microaggressions

This interactive session focuses on three parts. To begin, participants will learn about the universal phenomenon of implicit bias: what it is, why it happens, how it happens, and when it is most likely to happen. Then participants will have an opportunity to explore their own implicit bias and how it impacts the ways in which they interact with others. Finally, we introduce the concept of microaggressions as one outcome of implicit bias and provide suggestions for ways to reduce the incidence of bias in our daily lives.

Course 3: Preparing for the Next Encounter

During this session, participants will identify an encounter (or theme of encounters) they have had that was identity-based. Racial encounters (experiences with others involving either a race-based topic or incidents with those of a different racial/ethnic background than themselves) are preferred, but they can also be involving other identity markers (such as gender, sexuality, religion, political ideology, etc) will be discussed. This encounter (or theme) should be one that you are unsatisfied with — maybe you wish the encounter had gone differently, or you think you could have handled the situation differently, or hoped for a different outcome, etc. The session will include an opportunity to process the encounter and also brainstorm alternatives for a more satisfying outcome, ultimately preparing and empowering the participants for the next encounter.

Participants should come to the meeting with an encounter in mind and be prepared to share their experiences in small and large groups.