At the University of Chicago, respect for diverse points of view is a core institutional value and a foundational element of teaching and learning. In the words of President Zimmer, “We have an obligation to see that the greatest variety of perspectives is brought to bear on the issues before us as scholars and citizens.” It is important that students understand how an instructor’s commitment to diverse perspectives supports an environment where rigorous inquiry is possible, respects the mutual exchange of ideas, and allows for the highest standard of learning and discovery.
Inclusive teaching actively and intentionally fosters an academic environment where all students feel valued, respected, and heard. When you address diversity in your syllabus, you begin the practice of inclusive teaching by setting expectations that invite and value different points of view generated collaboratively by students with various backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. This shows students that you recognize how diverse perspectives can illuminate an object of scholarship, and lead to a rich intellectual climate. In many cases, it also indicates your understanding that a classroom environment must create the conditions for all students to reach their full potential academically.
You can demonstrate respect for diversity in your teaching in many ways. Some ways to do so include the following:
- You may want to include on your syllabus a reference and link to the President and Provost’s message on diversity: https://diversityandinclusion.uchicago.edu/commitment/message-from-leadership/
- You could describe how the expression and consideration of diverse opinions and interpretations may be essential to the overall learning goals of the course
- You can address diversity within the context of your overall philosophy of teaching and the principles of scholarship, dialogue, and critical thinking that guide the course
- You may include a statement of your commitment to diversity. Such statements, in whatever form, may help create a sense of belonging for all students (Plaut et al., 2009; Steele, 2010). A diversity statement also can emphasize how valuable difference is in cultivating an atmosphere of open intellectual exchange (Gundermir et al., 2017). https://provost.uchicago.edu/handbook/clause/diversity-statement
There are many ways to communicate how you value diversity to students. If you would like to discuss different options, please contact Cheryl Richardson (email@example.com), CCT Director for Inclusive Teaching Initiatives.
Gündemir, S., Dovidio, J. F., Homan, A. C., & Dreu, C. K. (2016) The Impact of Organizational Diversity Policies on Minority Employees’ Leadership Self-Perceptions and Goals. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 24(2), 172-188.
Plaut, V. C., Thomas, K. M., & Goren, M. J. (2009) Is multiculturalism or color blindness better for minorities? Psychological Science, 20(4), 444-446
Steele, Claude. (2010) Whistling Vivaldi: and other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.