The main premise of such efforts is that institutions need reform to become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
It is assumed that these are desirable goals — none of the key terms presents a justification for greater diversity, for example — and that, given the current status quo, most (if not all) institutions must strive to realize more of these qualities. Other assumptions in play here include:
That treating individuals equitably — in addition to treating them equally— is among the most valued ideals that an institution of higher learning should pursue.
That processes of social stratification inexorably distribute resources, skills, and opportunities unequally, a skewed distribution with a profound impact on educational access and achievement.
That an institution’s practices and policies are culturally embedded: While much about them is readily recognized, much is also implicit and sedimented in taken-for-granted routines and rationales. Dynamics that inhibit inclusion and equity often lie imbricated in this unacknowledged “common sense.” Thus, addressing them requires collective work that is reflective and transformative.
This glossary begins to provide a shared language for students, staff, and faculty as we pursue the inclusive mission of the College more ambitiously. In particular, the implications of the principal key terms — diversity, equity, and inclusion — for institutional practice are already the subject of reflection in many segments of the campus. In defining them substantively, these iterations are intended to stimulate further thought and debate. Likewise, in light of To Include Is to Excel’s focus on pedagogy and curriculum, the definition of inclusive excellence is proposed as a lofty yet crucial goal to guide our efforts. This list is provisional and partial — it does not attempt to be comprehensive — and will likely grow with time.
“Inclusive excellence” is achieved when . . . historically underrepresented students exhibit traditional academic characteristics of high achievers, such as high-grade point averages, honors, high-class rankings, and so on. We emphasize traditional measures of academic excellence because for too long, institutions of higher education have approached the college participation of historically underrepresented students as a matter of producing “survivors” — students who persist and graduate — largely disregarding the institution’s responsibility and effectiveness in producing “leaders.” Most institutions evaluate their effectiveness in serving historically underrepresented students in terms of access, to a lesser extent in terms of persistence and completion, and rarely ever in terms of high achievement among specific groups.