Making Excellence Inclusive


(Information drawn from the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the American Association for Affirmative Action.)

Affirmative Action: Policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination. The focus of such policies ranges from employment and education to public contracting and health programs. Executive Order 11246.

Affirmative Action Plan: A federally mandated report that sets forth employment goals for minorities and women whose representation in the workforce is less than would be reasonably expected by availability estimates of the qualified labor pool. The plan also names the positive affirmative steps the employer will take to recruit and to employ qualified minorities and women. The goals component of the plan is not designed to be, nor should be interpreted to be, permitting unlawful quotas with respect to persons of any race or sex. Rather, the goals are used to target and measure the effectiveness of affirmative action efforts to eliminate and prevent discrimination.

Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning. 

    Inclusion: Active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

    Cultural Competency: Ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. It comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) Cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.

    Cultural Awareness: Awareness of one's cultural values, beliefs and perceptions in contradistinction to those of others.

    Tokenism: Making cursory or merely symbolic efforts toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration.  Often refers to limited hiring of people from underrepresented groups in order to deflect criticism or comply with affirmative action policies.