Best Practices: Teaching Sensitive Course Content

Introduction to Sensitive Content

Students in higher education routinely explore knowledge in depth and from many perspectives, building their foundation of lifelong learning and understanding to prepare for future challenges in a continually changing multiracial and multicultural world. Like many colleges and universities, the University of Minnesota’s guiding principles emphasize striving to maintain a high-quality learning environment based on mutual respect and open exchange of ideas, viewpoints, and contexts, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.

Teaching and learning in colleges and universities are not for the faint-hearted. Addressing sensitive topics and content is integral to higher education. Sensitive content includes trauma, violence, racism, sexism, classism, rape/sexual assaults, and any other topic that a student might find upsetting, unpleasant or disturbing. Given the wide diversity of student experience, faculty and instructors may not always anticipate what students will interpret as sensitive content. 

Applying best practices in teaching and learning, especially when dealing with sensitive course content, can help elevate class discussions, minimize conflict, and create inclusive and enriching learning environments. Faculty and instructional staff who purposefully teach sensitive content and plan for the unexpected can create truly transformational experiences for students.

This site is designed to help faculty and instructional staff effectively plan and deliver sensitive course content.

Plan Your Course

Deliver Your Course

Below are a few resources regarding the need for effectively teaching sensitive course content: