Add a Basic Needs statement to your syllabus, and be prepared to serve as a resource for students as they navigate challenges related to what you include.
Techniques and Activities to help you explore this practice.
Define Basic Needs
Think about how you definite “basic needs.” You might start by considering Maslow’s hierarchy, and look particularly at the bottom section of the pyramid. Obvious basic needs include clean air and water, shelter, and food. Health and safety may also be concerns, especially during a public health crisis or when identity groups are targets of violence (such as sexual assault or police brutality). You may also need to think about particular external needs that have to be met for learning to happen, and these may include transportation, technology access, child care, mental health, or the cost of learning materials.
Build a Resource List
Once you identify the basic needs that, if unmet, could interfere with your students’ ability to learn, you will need to educate yourself about the college and community resources that are available to assist students in meeting their needs. Make sure you update this resource list every semester so that you only pass along accurate information. Familiarize yourself with the people who offer the resources so that when students are in need, you can not only pass along a referral, you can make an introduction and facilitate a relationship.
Advocate Around Gaps
If you find that your students have unmet basic needs and you cannot identify any campus or community resources that can help, develop an advocacy plan to improve things. Remember that you can’t change things overnight, so build a coalition of stakeholders (including affected students), ask for institutional leadership to get involved, and craft a deliberate and staged plan to make next year better.
Let Your Words Reflect Care
When it comes to crafting your statement, try to do two things: 1) let your students know that above all else, you care that their needs are met and you see it as part of your job as an instructor to partner with them if they need assistance; and 2) let your statement be a symbol of your care, not the extent of it (in other words, you have to be ready to listen, help, and follow up on these issues if you include a statement on your syllabus).
Craft Your Statement
Craft a statement that demonstrates that you care about your students’ basic needs and that you consider basic needs an academic issue that it is your job as an instructor to assist with. Add this statement to your syllabus and post it near your office door.
Build Your Resource List
Custom build a list of resources that you are educated about that will assist you when students come to you to share their challenges around basic needs. Disseminate that list to students, use it to build relationships with campus and community colleagues who work on basic needs, and share it with colleagues and encourage them to participate with you in this work.
Bring It Home
Most basic needs work on college campuses is done by Student Life personnel, or by offices separate from the teaching faculty. Faculty should consider partnering with these folks to bring these programs into the academic wing of the house. Start a satellite food pantry in your department office; host department resource nights on parenting while in school; start a ride board to help people set up car pools. How can you reflect that basic needs matter to the learning in your program?
Online reading and resources to help dive deeper into this practice.
- This CoLab resource has an explanation of why it is helpful to craft a Basic Needs Syllabus Statement along with samples of statements from different faculty.
- The ACE Framework page on “Integration with Basic Needs Services” includes data on college students and basic needs insecurity.
A larger community of teachers and learners interested in this practice.
Discuss on Twitter
If you are active on Twitter, we encourage you to share your thought and ideas using the #ACEFramework hashtag and the #syllabus hashtag to talk about this practice, in particular.
Join a Meeting
If you are interested in talking to people about the Equity value (for which Basic Needs Syllabus Integration is an ACE-informed practice), we invite you to our hosted Zoom chats. Chats are scheduled this summer on the following dates:
- Thursday, June 18 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Overview of the ACE Framework
- Thursday, July 9 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Equity Practices
Submit Your Ideas
If you find yourself working this summer on a project or approach that uses Basic Needs Syllabus Integration, we invite you to share what you’ve found or created, via the Submit Something button below. If you choose to publicly share your submission, it will immediately become available on this page in the Revisit section. (For particularly compelling submissions, we may also add this to the Explore section of this page.)
Hypothesize with Us
Join Our Team
Plymouth State University community members are invited to join our Teams site for the ACE Framework. Feel free to use our discussion channel to ask questions, give suggestions, and point to new resources.
A space for user-submitted ideas, resources, and links related to this practice.