The dynamism of higher education is the opportunity to participate in an environment where intellectual diversity is cherished, where a free exchange of ideas is appreciated, and where student diversity is valued. Higher education institutions represent an educational space where inclusion, not exclusion, should thrive. However, this is not always the reality for all students and educators, even though the aspiration is to create educational environments where all participants can achieve their full potential and develop their human gifts.
AAC&U’s Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference: “Engaged Inclusivity: Perceptions, Realities, and Aspirations” will examine what it means to work toward a campus environment where inclusivity thrives through constant reflection, analysis, and accountability. Engaged inclusivity transforms the dialogue on inclusion from general acceptance and tolerance of difference to active institutional transformation, based on the belief that the richness of our culture is because of our diversity and a recognition of our common humanity. The conference will provide a forum for educators, students, and community stakeholders to raise critical questions about institutional and external practices, policies, and structures that hinder full inclusion and to identify strategies for improving the educational environment for all participants.
The conference will focus on key questions about engaged inclusivity:
How are higher education institutions supporting the holistic development of today’s diverse students? In what ways are educators responding to the various needs of students (e.g., housing and food insecurities, mental health concerns, neurodiversity, sexual identity, disabilities, immigration concerns, racism)?
What are evidence-based classroom practices that promote inclusion and diversity of thought to examine real-world problems? What are strategies for initiating and/or managing classroom activities that promote risk-taking among faculty for engaging in difficult dialogues?
How are educators examining their current campus climates to identify systemic inequities and exclusion in institutional practices and policies? How can educators effectively advocate for diversity and support engaged inclusivity within environments that may have competing priorities and/or divergent goals? How are campus leaders addressing resistance to engaged inclusivity and institutional change? What are the ways in which campuses are transforming their institutional environments to create a sense of belonging and well-being for all participants?
How are campuses diversifying their faculty, staff, and administrators to reflect current and emerging student demographics? What faculty and staff development opportunities exist to promote increased intercultural awareness and competencies?