From the archives of The USAFA Educator, Fall 2006
DF’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative
Col Rita Jordan, Professor and Head, Department of Management
Higher education is at a defining moment as institutions of learning look to educate students to become multiculturally proficient, informed about the human and natural world, and empowered to act responsibly and with moral courage in a fast-changing, stratified, and globally interdependent world.
Globalization is changing the face of the world, making it more competitive, both economically and intellectually. The United States cannot expect to continue as leader if its largest pools of talent remain untapped. Therefore, organizations are aspiring to a more heterogeneous workforce, one that enables leadership to draw upon the abilities and perspectives of all members to offer a range of creative solutions.
Higher education is responsible for producing this next generation of leaders, of all races and ethnicities, who can be agents of change and who will lead people and ideas in diverse workplaces. Multicultural skills and knowledge now are integral to the flexible, inquisitive, and synergistic thinking that is a hallmark of an educated person.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has had a long standing interest in diversity efforts that value die contributions of all students. This initiative is known as "Inclusive Excellence." In an inclusive excellence curriculum, faculty create appropriate learning experiences that chart pathways of success for all students. To better understand AAC&U's initiative, two key definitions are offered:
- Diversity - individual differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, country of origin, cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.
- Inclusion - consists of an active, intentional, and on-going engagement with diversity in people, in the curriculum, and in the communities (social, cultural, intellectual, and geographical) with which individuals might connect in ways that would increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
The Dean of Faculty's Inclusive Excellence Initiative is a developmental approach which extends beyond merely increasing the number of women and minorities on faculty. It also seeks to develop and enhance faculty understanding of the value and importance of inclusion resulting in integration of multicultural experience opportunities with course learning goals. Inclusive excellence is fundamental to DF's Learning Focused Initiative and integrally linked to USAFA's educational outcomes.