Diversity, Learning, and Student Success
Shifting Paradigms and Challenging Mindsets
“[We must] commit ourselves to the aspirations and ideals of the American creed, to a vision of democracy that is deliberative, inclusive and fair, and that seeks to address the problems of our day—poverty, racism, hyper-segregation, gender inequalities, homophobia, and religious hatreds. Conversations and actions about these topics are difficult but necessary. At this moment in our national history, colleges and universities remain one of the few forums for such conversations. Let us engage this task with wisdom and patience, seeking justice and, by so doing, rejuvenating the promises of our democracy.”
-- Ramon Gutiérrez, The Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of History, The University of Chicago
The intersection of diversity, learning, and opportunity continues to shape American society and higher education. The complexities of our history with diversity—in both the distant past and more recently—compel us as educators to engage in difficult, but essential dialogues to identify both institutional and individual barriers that stand in the way of our reaching full and meaningful inclusion in higher education for all students. Those difficult dialogues also must lead to action—specifically, to the dismantling of practices and policies that encourage division and polarization.
AAC&U’s 2016 Diversity, Learning and Student Success conference—“Shifting Paradigms and Challenging Mindsets”—will examine existing paradigms in higher education that serve as catalysts for marginalization and intolerance and impede the exploration and acceptance of difference as a core value in our democratic society and in effective educational environments. The program will explore the kinds of entrenched attitudes and policies that rest on deficit-minded assumptions about diversity, student learning, and success. It will engage participants in “courageous conversations” that are problem-oriented and solution-driven—designed to expand our abilities to fully serve and prepare all students for lifelong success and engaged citizenship.
Conference sessions will examine how to incentivize collaborative action and higher levels of interactivity across institutions to advance student success and build democratic capacity. Participants will be able to use the conference to develop plans for using equity-minded, student-centered learning frameworks as a resource for developing strategic plans and campus-based change agendas. Those attending as part of campus teams also will be able to explore how to develop guided learning pathways and integrated approaches to diversity and student learning focused on problem-based high-impact practices and emerging innovations in digital learning.
AAC&U invites you to join with colleagues to advance a national conversation on the power of collaboration and community-building in identifying evidence-based strategies that advance high-quality learning environments and embrace the complexities of our shared history, while fostering robust discourse on the intersections of inclusion, diversity, equity, and learning for all.