Diversity Statements

Read it aloud on the first day of class and go back to it from time to time. N.B. Diversity Statements and Land Acknowledgements added to syllabi without other efforts to make a course culturally-inclusive can be offensive.

Depending on the class, statements of diversity may refer to: a) the content of the course and resources, b) the mechanisms and criteria for  evaluation/assessment, c) the faculty member acknowledgement of her/his own limitations in being sensitive and her/his willingness to learn for the students, and d) expectations and guidelines on how students can help create a productive and inclusive learning environment. 

Brown University’s Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning recommends that you consider the following questions as you write your diversity statement:

  • “What are your discipline’s conventions and assumptions? How might students with varying backgrounds respond to them?
  • What role does your respect for and engagement with diversity in the classroom play in your personal teaching philosophy?
  • What positive learning outcomes can come from respecting difference in the classroom? How can you highlight these?
  • What do you want your students to know about your expectations regarding creating and maintaining a classroom space where differences are respected and valued?
  • Is your statement inclusive of different types of diversity, including, but not limited to: race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religion, and disability?
  • Which campus resources would you like to direct your students to for further support?
  • What kind of classroom environment would your students like to see? How might you include them in the conversation about standards for classroom civility?” (from Brown University’s Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning n.d.)

Other resources for writing a diversity statement include:

Note that additional syllabus statements should be included in your syllabus that communicate an instructor’s willingness to discuss and accommodate students that are neurodiverse and intellectually differently-abled (Storms et al. 2020, p20). Details on what to include in statements of this nature are included in Christoff (2017).

You might also consider adding a Welcoming Statement for international students, acknowledging that their perspectives enrich your learning environment and that you recognize they face a unique set of challenges. Also, add links to support services specifically for international students on campus.

Other supportive language can be useful, like flexible attendance policies and links to mental health resources.

Recommended Citation: Cagle, N. 2020. How to Create a Culturally Inclusive Course. Available online at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gvVTGhbQwxPyel6cFzJgsyDjbvm6Qadxo2fmLAjAX7M/edit?usp=sharing

Looking for the Reference List? Check out How to Create a Culturally Inclusive Course


Sample Diversity Statement.

Diversity, Implicit Bias, and Learning

Eurocentric think pervades Western conservation science and we often see natural history portrayed as a solely white American and European tradition. However, nature has been and is an essential part of cultures globally and our knowledge of the natural world wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of historically marginalized groups. This course seeks to serve and enrich students from all backgrounds and perspectives and operates on the premise that the diversity that students bring to class is a resource, strength, and benefit.

In addition, to learn to the best of our abilities, we all must feel comfortable and supported in our school environment. For this reason, I want to know when you are not feeling comfortable or supported. I wish that expressions of bias never occurred, but they do. Peers, faculty, and staff may say or do things that reveal their biases, and sometimes I may be the source. While I’ve undergone unconscious bias, racial equity (REI and Racial Equity Learning Arc), gender/sexuality, and cuIturally inclusive teaching trainings and workshops, I may still make mistakes. In these situations, please reach out to me. I hope that you will teach me as I teach you.

Finally, if you have a preferred name and/or set of pronouns different from those appearing in your official Duke records, please let me know. Also, if you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class, please don’t hesitate to come and talk with me. I want to be a resource for you. Also, you can always submit anonymous feedback to me here.

(Adapted from Duguid, M. 2019. The New England Forest Syllabus 2019. Yale University, New Haven CT and Wheeler, D., Zapata, J., Davis, D., and C. Chou. 2018. Twelve tips for responding to macroaggressions and overt discriminations: When the patient offends the learner. Medical Teacher 41: 1112-1117)

Recommended Citation: Cagle, N. 2021. Diversity Statement. ENV731 Dendrology Syllabus 2021 v. 26Aug2021.