Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency
The University of Rhode Island is devoted to promoting inclusion and awareness of diversity issues to our students and faculty.
Whether you teach a class in biology, engineering, writing or sociology, there are changes you can make to your classroom and your approach to teaching that create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all your students. In this section, we offer the basics for learning about and taking the first steps in designing an inclusive classroom and/or teaching multicultural awareness to your students.
What is Diversity?
Diversity can be conceptualized in different ways depending on the context. When it comes to our classrooms, we conceptualize diversity as understanding each student brings unique experiences, strengths, and ideas to our classroom. These differences can be along dimensions of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status, age, ability, religious or political beliefs, or other different ideologies. Diversity is the exploration and incorporation of these differences to enrich learning and in our classrooms.
Why does Diversity matter in my classroom?
Our students come to URI with a wide range of experiences and educational backgrounds. As educators, we have a responsibility to ensure our students are prepared to work in a diverse environment and collaborate with others who bring new perspectives. When we incorporate a variety of perspectives into our own teaching and offer students new ways of looking at their discipline we prepare our students for the diverse workforce. See How Diversity Makes us Smarter from the Scientific American for more information.
How do I incorporate diversity into my classroom?
There are a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity into your classroom and it depends on the goals you have for your students. This is not a one-step process, but, whether you are incorporating diverse perspectives into your course content or teaching students about cultural differences, you want to ensure your classroom is welcoming and you’ve created a respectful, safe environment. Our inclusive classroom section offers some resources on where to start.
What is an Inclusive Classroom
In an inclusive classroom, instructors are aware of the diversity of students and work with students to create a safe and collaborative learning environment. Instructors use multiple methods to deliver course content and provide students with a variety of opportunities to share what they know. Inclusive classrooms recognize students learn in different ways and have valuable perspectives to bring to the content being learned.