Monday, May 16, 2016

How Do You Create a Diversity Agenda?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Beth McMurtrie
May 15, 2016

Colleges have been roiled in recent months by students demanding more diversity on campuses. Their concerns are far from new. Diversity has been a hot-button topic since federal desegregation efforts began more than 50 years ago. Yet efforts to increase the numbers of minority faculty, staff, and students on campuses, create inclusive communities, and infuse the curriculum with diverse perspectives have met with limited success.

It’s not for lack of trying — on paper, at least. So how do colleges make sure they live up to their promises? In short, how do you create an effective diversity agenda?

Scholars who study diversity in higher education say colleges keep making the same mistakes, even as they ramp up the rhetoric around diversity. From the civil-rights protests of the 1960s to the debates on affirmative action of the 1990s to the broadening of diversity to include sexual orientation and gender identity, colleges have often been reactive, not proactive, experts say. Planning is assigned to ad hoc committees, strategies are designed by small groups of people, and results are expected of those who often lack the authority and resources to produce them. Meanwhile, most people on campuses are left out of the conversation.

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