Inclusion

Virginia Tech has developed an initiative called InclusiveVT which now serves an umbrella for inclusion and diversity efforts.  VT President Timothy Sands has publicly stated that inclusion is the goal and with inclusion will come diversity.  For more information, see the InclusiveVT website and blog.

Most of us would say that we understand and would be able to define inclusion. And we would commonly define inclusion as the “action of including or being included within a group or structure”.  Although accurate, inclusion is and has to be more.

From my perspective, inclusion thus is not simply about including individuals of diverse backgrounds into existing groups or structures (society).  It has to be about changing the culture of the group or structure (institution) as well so that individuals could be and are included.   Without such change, individuals might be “present” in the structure but might and often do feel excluded.  With cultural change, the modified structure would then be more inclusive and less representative of the status quo. Institutions of higher education have been very slow to change but they must.  To do less is to fall short of the transformational change toward inclusivity needed in higher education.

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