Defining Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion involves an intentional and active commitment to embrace difference and create a sense of belonging for the purpose of expanding knowledge; educating capable citizens and workers; encouraging self-actualization; and serving local, state, national, and international communities. Creating and achieving diversity and inclusion involves a commitment to educational equity, cross-cultural understanding, and the creation of respectful, open communities. Creating a welcoming and inclusive university requires more than tolerance, acknowledgement of differences, or awareness of others. Diversity and inclusion require intentional dispositions and practices:
- Studying and understanding the interrelationships between societies, cultures, and natural environments.
- Holding mutual respect and understanding for one’s own lived experiences and others whose lived experiences and perceptions differ from one’s own.
- Recognizing that diversity is not only representation but also involves ways of knowing and being.
- Understanding that cultural, institutional, and personal discrimination creates and sustains unearned privileges for some individuals and groups and concomitant undeserved disadvantages for other individuals and groups.
- Concentrating on dismantling policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination while simultaneously developing policies and practices that support equality and belonging.
- Creating and sustaining communities across and from our differences that enable faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders to continually work to end all forms of discrimination.
Academic excellence is grounded in campus environments and intellectual conditions that affirm the dispositions and practices described above. Diversity and inclusion are crucial to the intellectual vitality of any college or university. It is through freedom of exchange over different perceptions, experiences, beliefs, and ways of knowing in safe, supportive, and nurturing environments that individuals develop the critical thinking, citizenship, and leadership skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. Diversity and inclusion engenders academic engagement where teaching, working, learning, and living take place in pluralistic communities of mutual respect.