By all accounts, the 29th Diversity and Inclusion Summit was a great success. The summit marked our first public celebration of CU Boulder’s recently completed Inclusion, Diversity, and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan. With record attendance, it also featured a remarkable array of inspirational speakers and participants, as well as sessions in which authentic, and at times difficult, conversations were had. These conversations made it clear that the goals and aspirations of diversity, equity and inclusivity articulated in the IDEA Plan and at the summit are foundational to our ability to accomplish the mission of this great university.
Our mission as a comprehensive research and teaching university is to advance the public good by preparing tomorrow’s leaders, constantly engaging in innovation and serving humanity. To carry out that mission, we must educate and prepare students to be curious and discerning participants in lifelong learning. It also requires something more: that we constantly consider diverse perspectives, experiences and viewpoints as a fundamental part of our research, scholarship, creative work and teaching.
This is harder than it sounds. As academics, we are products of disciplines built on centuries of acquired information, cultivated and tested facts, and constantly expanding fields of knowledge. As faculty, we come from various points within these constellations, but our challenge is constant: to always ask ourselves where and how we are meeting our colleagues in the pursuit of understanding, and just as importantly, where we are meeting our students. If these intersections arise from too narrow a perspective, our understanding will not be as rich as those that derive from broader, multidimensional perspectives.
Likewise, when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge, if our teaching and pedagogy arise from a narrow place—built only upon personal preferences and experiences, and conducted in ways that exclude people who have historically been underrepresented in higher education and barred from being full participants in academic discourse—we run the risk of replicating conventional wisdoms. We seek to explore the full possibilities of the classroom and the diverse people in it. This requires that we conduct our pedagogy and scholarship in ways that engage all students and colleagues in that exploration. We owe it to our students and to the betterment of our university to reconsider the modern dynamic of the classroom—to involve and embrace the broadest possible exploration of perspectives, life experiences, identities, and ideas, and to meet students and colleagues where they are in the fullness of their humanity at all points in the academic experience.
We are taking important next steps in developing this approach across the campus. The Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) is conceived as a hub for professional development on teaching and learning best practices for faculty, instructors and graduate students—with a strong grounding in inclusive classroom practices. The CTL will soon announce a leader for inclusive pedagogy and is already offering workshops that are building inclusive communities of practice in partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE).
I urge everyone—from our most experienced faculty to our graduate students—to immerse themselves in the CTL’s offerings and in other campus activities that are helping to make inclusion a fundamental way of doing things at CU Boulder. The IDEA Plan, the latest Diversity and Inclusion Summit and new innovations such as the CTL (and a good many other measures) are inspiring us to recommit to building a campus community that is open, inclusive and welcoming to diverse people, communities and perspectives. It is up to us to make this commitment real moving ahead, and in the process, transform the academic experience we offer.
As that transformational work continues, I want to thank all those doing the important work of diversity and inclusion on our campus—in organizations such as ODECE and Student Affairs, and through the individual contributions of faculty, staff and of course, our students. I invite you to seek out new and upcoming opportunities to engage in workshops and professional development opportunities via ODECE, CTL, Human Resources and at the college, school and work unit level.
With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, please know that I am personally thankful for your hard work and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusive excellence.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs