What is the role of higher education in upholding the values of equity and diversity, and in sustaining democracy? Where are we falling short—and for whom? Can acknowledging the truth that all students are not well served by aspects of the existing educational environment lead us to reimagine systems, structures, and policies? How do we promote transformative forms of engagement across differences that lead to more just and equitable communities?
To explore these and related questions, the AAC&U Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success will focus on a critical examination of both the perceptions and the realities of equity, diversity, and what it means to educate for democracy in a constantly changing educational and societal landscape. Such an examination is central to the cultural and mindset shifts needed not only to identify inequities and biases within our institutions and our communities, but also to operationalize the values and set the goals that will lead to institutional change and higher levels of accountability.
The exploration of truth is fundamental to our purpose as educators. The role of higher education is to guide students on a journey of discovery, helping them discover their own truth and to understand the interdependence that derives from our common humanity. Respect, dignity, and the free exchange of ideas through civil discourse should serve as core principles in preparing the next generation of leaders and thinkers. To uphold involves understanding and acknowledging where we have fallen short, and maintaining a sense of urgency in our efforts to build and sustain expansive and equitable institutions and communities.
Conference sessions will explore the various experiences of institution and community participants in an effort to acknowledge, to reimagine, to transform, and to heal. AAC&U invites students, educators, policymakers, and administrators to join us and to engage in these action-oriented, truth-telling conversations.