Katina Sawyer is one of the Department of Management and Organizations’ newest additions. She travelled cross-country from George Washington University in Washington D.C. to begin her journey at the Eller College of Management.
Sawyer has a passion for teaching and researching topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion in organizations and will be teaching a class on leading for inclusion at the undergraduate level starting in Spring 2023.
“The best part about teaching is seeing when students come in with certain preconceived notions about things and you have the opportunity to question those assumptions and hopefully inform their perspective moving forward,” says Sawyer.
Sawyer’s research looks mainly at diversity, equity and inclusion in organizations from a variety of angles—how organizations can create more inclusive and equitable environments, how leaders can behave in ways that promote and build feelings of inclusion and work, and what individuals who have experienced exclusion at work might have to teach about building more equitable organizational futures.
The leading for inclusion class that Sawyer will teach at the Eller College is going to be based entirely on her research. The National Science Foundation gave Sawyer a grant to explore behaviors that underrepresented individuals view as inclusive at work and the class is going to be built on a lot of the key concepts that are in her research.
“I want students to understand their own relationship to conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion and the legacy they want to leave behind as people and as leaders,” she says. “You can Google an answer to almost anything right now, but solving problems and thinking critically about how to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges that are facing humanity today is tougher. So my goal in teaching is to critically assess and try to work with students to brainstorm solutions to improve the world.”
Sawyer believes that the best part of her research is seeing the impact that it is having around the world. “Seeing the clear link between some of the projects we’re working on and what is happening in society is what is motivating to me,” she says. “Research with impact is even more exciting.”