Teaching college students about functioning in a global work-world has increased the need for diversity education to become a prominent part of the educational experience. A diversity statement reinforces multicultural values and expectations held by a higher education community. Buy-in from faculty, staff and students is critical when writing this statement. Communicating a formal commitment to diversity through experiences both inside and outside of the classroom sets the stage for the development of a multicultural learning environment.
Writing a diversity statement requires investment by faculty, students and staff in a process that evaluates institutional values. A representative work-group should begin by examining the benefits of incorporating diversity into the institutional mission and goals. Reviewing institutional programs that provide access and opportunity for all students, affirmative action policies and programs, and initiatives that further global understanding set the foundation for a diversity statement that underscores active multiculturalism.
Incorporating diversity standards into academic curriculum is a key part of a diversity statement. Promoting a free exchange of ideas is central to this effort. Faculty should be actively involved in writing language for the statement that confirms diversity will be integrated into teaching methods and content. Phrasing in the statement should be measurable and clearly state that students will be challenged to think critically about differing ideas and perspectives. Curriculum standards should emphasize the global nature of education and the expectation that students will be respectful of varied opinions and ideas.
Out of Class Learning
Staff responsible for co-curricular learning and support should craft language about how diversity impacts student success outside of the classroom. A diversity statement should explain the importance of an inclusive learning environment that celebrates differences and honors varied cultural perspectives. It’s important to address collaborative programming, special services for underrepresented students and environmental factors that can enhance the quality of life for all students.
Review and Revise
The ever-changing demographics of our society are reflected in the composition of a university community. A diversity statement must be reviewed regularly to ensure that it adequately reflects the needs of the student population. Establishing a mechanism to evaluate needs related to diversity education is critical to long-term success. Using surveys, current research and best practices from diversity leaders will help frame needed changes. Similarly, assessing current programs, policies and academic benchmarks will provide insight into the effectiveness of a university diversity statement.
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