Is Choosing a College That Emphasizes Diversity a Good Idea?

If you’re weighing all of your options when deciding on your top college choices, you may not have considered the thought of diversity at college. Some of the most obvious things students look at are price, availability of desired program, job placement, location and size of campus. You may not have thought about student diversity on your eventual campus and how such a factor could influence your education as well as your future. There are a number of benefits to attending a diverse school. Choosing a college that emphasizes diversity is definitely a good way to add value to your education  for many reasons. Let’s examine a few.

Improved Understanding

Going to college with people of diverse cultures, race, ethnicity and religion is likely to provide you with a better understanding of others and of yourself. Every interaction you have with someone of a different background than your offers you an opportunity to learn something new. Even if in the case of a disagreement with someone who holds beliefs that are far removed from your own closely held ideas, you will gain experience with interpersonal communication and knowledge of the kinds of thoughts or beliefs held by other groups of people. Encountering diversity teaches you about yourself, too. As you meet people and are exposed to differing views, you can begin to process why it is you hold your own particular set of beliefs, traditions and customs. This kind of introspection is essential to shaping your worldview and who you are as a person.

Enhanced Career Readiness

Living and learning among a diverse community of both students and professors will prepare you for the workforce by providing you with many desirable skills employers seek. As previously mentioned, your interpersonal skills will be strengthened by interacting with a wide variety of people. Someone who communicates well with a broad base of constituents, including co-workers and clients, is always a business asset. Being exposed to the multiple perspectives of your peers and faculty throughout college will also likely contribute to better critical thinking skills because you’ll be forced to contemplate ideas that are new to you and determine how they correspond to your own understanding. An employee who possesses the capacity to examine every angle of a situation from various perspectives is most certainly an asset.

Improved Confidence

Through your encounters with a diverse campus population, you will likely be more confident and ready to face all of the new experiences that will come your way upon graduation. No matter where your journey may lead, you will probably be thankful for the diversity of your education because it will have given you the chance to adapt to a host of novel experiences. Think of your college experience as a trial run for the real world. New situations may not seem as daunting to you as they might to someone who never had the chance to encounter diversity.

These are only a few of the benefits that come from choosing a college that emphasizes diversity. Embracing and understanding a world of perspectives through diversity at college will add to your life in more ways than you can imagine.

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Though an increasing number of faculty search committees now ask candidates to submit diversity statements, guidance about how to compose an effective statement—indeed, even about what they are and why they can be valuable to institutions and candidates’ own professional development—remains scarce. You may think that diversity statements require you to locate diversity within your own social identities. You can, of course, note how your identities and life experiences motivate your commitment to diversity. However, beyond your motivation, universities and colleges want to know what you have accomplished in your career to this point and how you will contribute to their goal of making their institutions more inclusive and equitable. The most compelling diversity statements offer your definitions of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) and demonstrate how your research, teaching, and service actualize your EDIB goals.

Schedule a consultation on your diversity statement Download our "Composing Your Diversity Statement" worksheet

What is a Diversity Statement?

A diversity statement is a polished, narrative statement, typically 1–2 pages in length, that describes one's accomplishments, goals, and process to advance excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging as a teacher and a researcher in higher education.

The Building Blocks of a Diversity Statement

The following categories are core components of diversity statements. Effective diversity statements will address each of the following areas and answer some, if not all, of the associated questions.

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) are defined in multiple ways across and within institutions. The mission for this component of your statement is to define how you understand these terms and identify your EDIB priorities.

> Download a copy of our "Composing Your Diversity Statement" worksheet

EDIB practices, in part, emerge from scholarship that researches the following: (1) the benefits and significance of diversity in higher education; (2) the obstacles and oppression that people who hold marginalized social identities face in higher education; (3) the processes for creating research and learning environments that benefit everyone. The mission for this component of your statement is to highlight your awareness of these conversations and show where your EDIB practices engage with them.

EDIB refers to values, goals, processes, assessments, and outcomes. The mission for this component of your diversity statement is to provide examples of your processes and assessments for attaining your EDIB goals in your research, teaching, and service.

Your diversity statement should not only showcase the EDIB work you have already accomplished but show how you integrate feedback and assess institutional needs to plan your future EDIB goals.

Some Final Tips and Advice

Some don’ts

Don’t (over)rely on self-disclosure. While you may choose to disclose the social identities you hold while narrating what motivates your commitment to EDIB work, your diversity statement should focus on the work you have done and will do to create diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces of higher education. A diversity statement is about your commitment to furthering EDIB within the context of institutions of higher education, not about cataloguing everything virtuous you’ve ever done to prove that you’re an ally to a marginalized group. Also, never feel compelled to emotionally bleed for a search committee. Keep in mind that some diversity statement prompts may let you know what they prefer in terms of self-disclosure. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s published guidelines to writing a diversity statement emphasize their desire for candidates who share the institution’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “regardless of personal demographic characteristics.”

Beware of false equivalencies. A personally challenging circumstance or series of events is not equivalent to holding a marginalized social identity throughout your lifetime. Similarly, the experiences of having one socially marginalized identity are not the same as the experiences of having a different marginalized social identity.

Don’t use “diversity” to refer to a BIPOC individual or a homogenous BIPOC community. Diversity does not mean a BIPOC individual or a homogenous BIPOC community. Diversity refers to the condition when individuals or communities from different backgrounds, cultures, frames of reference, social identities, or perspectives come together in a social context. It does not refer to a person (including yourself) or a homogenous community who experiences marginalization.

Don’t tailor every statement. Your diversity statement should demonstrate how you have and would effectively plan to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across contexts, with clear EDIB objectives, expected outcomes, and forms of assessment. Your cover letter is the place for you to tailor your EDIB discussion, possibly referencing institutional contexts and departmental missions while describing specific initiatives you could plan and mentioning potential collaborations with centers and committees.

Learn more about the EDIB challenges and goals of institutions. Before you draft your diversity statement, take time to research a range of websites from the institutional offices of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the universities, colleges, and departments to which you may apply. Note any recurring EDIB challenges and goals, and consider how your experiences and skills might address their needs and further their initiatives.

Show your process. Avoid only stating your belief in EDIB principles without showing methods for attaining your EDIB goals. Additionally, you can also demonstrate how your process reflects your EDIB principles. For example, if decolonizing your pedagogy is your EDIB goal, your process to achieve this may be to revise the readings on your syllabus to include voices outside of the traditional canon. To make the process align with your decolonial approach, you might solicit feedback from students on the readings and curriculum rather than unilaterally selecting the required readings yourself.

State your outcomes and lessons learned. The strongest diversity statements show what you accomplished with your initiatives and how you learned from feedback. Be mindful to state any skills or knowledge you acquired.

Connect your EDIB practices with evidence. Evidencing the effectiveness of your EDIB practices can come from your own assessments and can also be bolstered by the research of scholars who have qualitatively or quantitatively assessed the EDIB practices you utilize.

For more information...

Diversity Statements (Cornell Faculty Affairs)

Rubric Assessing Candidate on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Cornell Faculty Affairs)

The Effective Diversity Statement (Inside Higher Ed)

Demystifying the Diversity Statement (Inside Higher Ed)

Framework for Diversity Research & Scholarship (National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan)

Sara P. Bombaci and Liba Pejchar, "Advancing Equity in Faculty Hiring with Diversity Statements"

Becoming an Anti-Racist, Equity-Minded Educator (Amherst College Center for Teaching and Learning)

Guidelines for Writing Your Diversity Statement (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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Diversity statements.

A diversity statement is a paragraph or section in institutional, department, or course language that welcomes the range of student identities, experiences, and perspectives, particularly those that have been traditionally marginalized. Instructors can use the diversity statement to welcome diverse perspectives, set expectations for civil discourse, and communicate standards of engagement both within a course or discipline and surrounding controversial events. The diversity statement signals belief that all students belong, have value, and bring unique perspectives worthy of consideration.

Research into the impact of syllabus diversity statements on classroom behavior remains slim, but the practice is widely accepted and deemed advantageous. Diverse student populations have been shown to connect course material to daily life in different ways (Packard, 2013), a factor that instructors might recognize when crafting statements. By demonstrating respect for differences in intellectual exchange, diversity statements support different student approaches to learning and avoid students feeling marginalized. These statements signal instructor awareness of potentially volatile campus conversations and encourage free exchange of earnest dialogue across a range of issues. The diversity statement is a helpful way to signal care and attention to the diversity of students’ ideas and backgrounds to support their sense of belonging. This can be used as a starting point to establishing a sense of community in the classroom and employing inclusive teaching practices.

Diversity Statement Samples

Below are some sample diversity statements used in syllabi by fellow Yale instructors as well as colleagues at other institutions:

Yale University - Dr. Carolyn Roberts, Assistant Professor, History of Science & History of Medicine, and African American Studies: “Our goal as a learning community is to create a safe environment that fosters open and honest dialogue. We are all expected to contribute to creating a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment. To this end, classroom discussions should always be conducted in a way that shows honor, respect, and dignity to all members of the class. Moreover, disagreements should be pursued without personal attack and aggression, and instead, should be handled with grace and care. This will allow for rigorous intellectual engagement and a deeper learning experience for all. Lastly, please remember to practice self-care, which, according to Audre Lorde ‘is not an act of self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’”

Yale University - Dr. Rona Ramos, Lecturer and Graduate Services Coordinator in Physics: “This class strives to be an inclusive community, learning from the many perspectives that come from having differing backgrounds and beliefs. As a community, we aim to be respectful to all. We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including but not limited to those based on age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. Faculty and students are expected to commit to creating an environment that facilitates inquiry and self-expression, while also demonstrating diligence in understanding how others’ viewpoints may be different from their own.”

University of Pennsylvania - Dr. Zahra Fakhraai, Associate Professor of Chemistry: “Please remember that groups are only effective if everyone treats each other with respect. You are encouraged to communicate your thoughts, but please also allow others in your group to also express their thoughts. You will be surprised how much you can learn by mutual respect of each other’s ideas, even if you are knowledgeable about a subject. Remember that you learn best by teaching a subject. Try to be receptive to constructive criticism, and open about accepting mistakes. Please come to the class prepared and take ownership of your group’s success.”

Brown University - Department of Sociology: “The Department of Sociology embraces a notion of intellectual community enriched and enhanced by diversity along a number of dimensions, including race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, class and religion. We are especially committed to increasing the representation of those populations that have been historically excluded from participation in U.S. higher education.”

University of Iowa - College of Education: “Respect for Diversity: It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups. In addition, if any of our class meetings conflict with your religious events, please let me know so that we can make arrangements for you.”

Brown University, Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning: “The Sheridan Center supports an inclusive learning environment where diverse perspectives are recognized, respected, and seen as a source of strength. Certificate II seeks to present a variety of diverse perspectives within the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) and through our seminar discussions. The seminar will address diversity considerations for course design and student engagement along a number of dimensions, including race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, socio-economic class, age, religion, and disability. Seminar participants who have a disability or other condition necessitating accommodation are encouraged to discuss their needs with the instructor.”

In addition, the diversity statement can provide a precedent for diversity practices throughout term:


Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., Lovett, M., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M (2010). How Learning Works: 7 Research – Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bart, M. (2012). Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Classroom. Faculty Focus. 

Brown University. (2011). Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. Diversity Statements.

Gurung, R. A. R., & Galardi, N. R. (2021). Syllabus Tone, More Than Mental Health Statements, Influence Intentions to Seek Help. Teaching of Psychology.

Harnish RJ et al. (2011). Creating the Foundation for a Warm Classroom Climate: Best Practices in Syllabus Tone. Association for Psychological Science.

Ludy, M., Brackenbury, T., Folkins, J., Peet, S., & Langendorfer, S. (2016). “Student Impressions of Syllabus Design: Engaging Versus Contractual Syllabus.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 10.2 (1-23).

Packard, J. (2013). The Impact of Racial Diversity in the Classroom: Activating the Sociological Imagination. Teaching Sociology 41.2: 144-158.


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The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning routinely supports members of the Yale community with individual instructional consultations and classroom observations.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The resources below were designed by the University of California system to support efforts to write and analyze diversity statements in a faculty search process. Diversity statements typically do one or more of the following:

If a candidate has not yet made substantial past contributions, we recommend focusing on demonstrating an understanding of issues and/or future vision. In terms of the latter, a good first step is to gather information on activities—on campus or beyond—they would like to pursue while at Brandeis, and then to describe how and in what ways they might participate in these.

Please reference our  Rubric for Evaluating Diversity Statements  and  Example DEI Interview Questions  webpages for additional insights. 

Examples of what might be included

The University of California system has created the following examples of what contributions to diversity might mean for applicants preparing diversity statements. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather is intended to illustrate how wide-ranging these contributions might be.

Prior to discussing one’s particular contribution to diversity, or future vision, it can be helpful for candidates to provide some context, and ‘state the problem’ these contributions aim to address. Thus we encourage candidates to use the opening of their statement to demonstrate an understanding of the broader issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their own field, and/or in higher education more broadly. This could include, for instance, discussing the particular barriers facing women, under-represented groups, and first generation college students in their field.

Such context can be particularly helpful if the candidate will be describing work with numbers of people from particular demographic groups. Such numbers are most meaningful after establishing the degree to which these groups are underrepresented in a given field, and/or their degree of underrepresentation at particular levels or ranks (graduate student, assistant professor, etc.).

Candidates might engage in multiple types of service to increase participation in higher education by historically under-represented groups and/or first generation college students. For instance:

K-12 outreach to demographic groups that are underrepresented in a candidate’s field or higher education more broadly

Serving as an advisor to programs such as Women in Science and Engineering, SACNAS or other equivalent programs in all disciplines

Exceptional record mentoring students and junior faculty from groups underrepresented in a candidate’s field or in higher education

Efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within departments, divisions, or professional societies

Candidates might engage in a range of teaching activities that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and on campus. This may include:

Candidates might conduct theoretical or applied research that addresses questions of equity, diversity, and/or inclusion. This may include:

Candidates may have life and educational experience, outside work experience, and/or cultural competencies and communication skills that can contribute to broader diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. For example, a candidate may have or display:

Candidates may have participated as students, postdocs or faculty in academic preparation, trainings, or other programs designed to remove barriers facing women, veterans, people with disabilities, first generation students, etc., and thus have first-hand knowledge of the challenges for groups who are particularly underrepresented in a candidate’s field on in higher education.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion [email protected] 781-736-4800

Diversity statements: what to avoid and what to include

Diversity statements are increasingly important for faculty, both when teaching online and applying for jobs. Pardis Mahdavi and Scott Brooks outline what to avoid and what to include when drafting a diversity statement

Pardis Mahdavi

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Advice on what to do and what not to do when writing diversity statements for online courses

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Search committees at colleges and universities increasingly require candidates applying for faculty or leadership positions to submit diversity statements. And in the post-Covid online world, where interviews are truncated at best, we are increasingly reliant on applicants’ written materials.

Universities across the US are now considering making diversity statements required for all faculty. Many institutions ask faculty to post diversity statements online for students to read before or during their course to demonstrate the institution’s and the individual’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Some universities even offer incentives such as merit raises for those willing to do so.

A well-constructed diversity statement is especially important for online instructors who need to provide a carefully considered response to the additional layer of challenges that many students face when studying remotely.

Here, we lay out some “red flags” to avoid and key frameworks to embed when writing a diversity statement.

What to avoid – red flags

Common mistakes or pitfalls when writing a diversity statement fall into three major categories:

Diversity by proxy

Personal stories of redemption

The exceptionalist argument.

1. Diversity by proxy

Diversity by proxy is when candidates borrow from the success of others, an organisation or programme. Candidates speak specifically about their department’s student demographics or a programme for students of colour that they direct, are part of or appreciate.

Example 1: “_____ (university’s name) is one of the most diverse campuses in the country. We are ____% white, ____% Latin, ____% Asian/Pacific Islander, ____% African American.”

Example 2: Candidates might mention success and claim some responsibility, implicitly or explicitly. “I’m a faculty mentor for the McNair Scholars programme and we have had wonderful, bright students who just need intense mentorship.”

Example 3: The message of “I support success for people of colour” can be followed by surprise and self-congratulation. “We have students who do very well, one or two have even gone on to graduate school at very good schools! One of my students, from Chicago, a first-generation student from a single-parent household, is a first-year PhD student at Berkeley.”

We called this “diversity by proxy” because the candidate’s example relies on numbers that tell us about where they are and not who they are or what they have done. Secondly, they are borrowing identity, status and achievement by linking themselves to the success stories of students of colour or faculty. In this way, they give undue credit to themselves as a saviour.

2. Personal stories of redemption

Candidates write of personal experiences that have occurred outside of the academy and are meant to reflect their appreciation for diversity and inclusion and their dissatisfaction with racism.

Example 1: They may write about an event that solidified their understanding of privilege: “I grew up in a small town where there was only one Indian family and one of the girls from that family became a close friend. And then, in the sixth grade, everything changed. She and I both auditioned for the school play, Annie , and it was clear that another girl got the lead because she was white and looked the part. But my friend was clearly better than everyone else. I felt bad for her but there was nothing I could do. And that is why I really feel so strongly about racism and exclusion and do what I can to help students of colour.”

Example 2: They may also talk about how they work with and learn so much from their colleagues of colour and students of colour. The focus is on their feeling and how they assuage their feelings of social injustice by their engagement, but does this lead to fighting structural issues found in the academy?

The playing field is never level, and so what do they do for those who they do not deem “clearly better”? 

3. The exceptionalist argument

Candidates write that they are in favour of diversity and inclusion but have not been in a position to fight against exclusionary practices.

Example 1: “Diversity is important but I can’t do it because my discipline is based on dead white men.”

Example 2: Or “I believe in diversity, but I have not been in a leadership position where I might make decisions. I would be supportive if there were some people of colour.”

The exceptionalist argument suggests that impact can only be made from certain positions, thereby exonerating most people who do not go against the grain. This obscures the roles that all faculty play in maintaining the status quo and contributing in small and large ways to discriminatory practices and negative outcomes for faculty, staff and students of colour.

Bias can lead to mis-assessing students, even creating unequal learning conditions. A student may be characterised as “low achieving” when they may need greater encouragement or when they come from a high school with fewer resources. In committee work, colleagues may use different adjectives to describe the quality of work of women colleagues and colleagues of colour.  

Are you interested in diversity issues? Check out our EDI channel, which is dedicated to advice and insight about equity, diversity and inclusion from academics around the world

What to include – key frameworks

Some white colleagues ask: “Can white candidates write something that would be acceptable?” This is a valid question. We say: “Of course they can. And some people of colour will write poor statements.” A good statement could come in countless forms. While some may feel that they cannot write from a position of experience, this is absolutely not the case. Their experiences are different.

We identify four elements found in strong diversity statements:

Diversity as a strategy

Evidence of addressing structural challenges

Recognition and underscoring of the invisible labour done by faculty and staff of colour

Demonstrated enlightened mentoring. 

1. Diversity as a strategy

Creating a plan, rather than simply doing an action, moves people beyond reacting and shows an understanding of intersectionality and the matrices of oppression.

For online teachers, it is especially important to consider the contours of their students’ lives. The strongest statements are ones where they see that there are interlocking issues – food insecurity is connected to student learning, impression management with professors, matriculation and well-being. For example, an online teaching candidate may have buttressed student support with financial and social support and mentoring and even made changes to policies that excluded certain people or groups based on criteria that are unnecessary. The strongest statements are those where candidates articulate how diversity is used centrally in re-thinking budget, curriculum and access.

2. Evidence of addressing structural challenges

Strong diversity statements include examples of candidates advocating for structural changes. They show that they recognise and make systemic changes to address this. Candidates can write about “white space” and how they have educated others and implemented new practices that go against the status quo. They may have found systemic holes and problems that have disparate effects on women of colour. They may have counteracted systemic and institutionalised practices. For instance, strong candidates mention noticing varying language, such as different adjectives, in the evaluations of faculty, staff and students of colour. 

3. Recognition or underscoring of invisible labour 

Supporting faculty and staff of colour must be multifaceted. It is widely known and acknowledged that faculty of colour have different experiences – they are counted on to take on certain services because they are a person of colour; students of colour look to them more than to white colleagues; and they face student racism. 

4. Demonstrated enlightened mentoring

Mentors who are “woke” to and address structural challenges, who use diversity as a strategy, and who recognise or underscore the invisible labour and challenges of faculty, staff and students of colour will mentor in ways that have longer term impacts and that mitigate exclusion and discriminatory practices.  Mentoring is especially difficult in the online world, but candidates who write about ways they have overcome this demonstrate strong commitments to the work of the framework we call JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion).

The JEDI framework is about more than one or two actions, and goes beyond a checklist. Thus, posting a diversity statement online is, in and of itself, not “enough”. However, this is an important part of systemic change when faculty post diversity statements, and these become an integral part of performance reviews and promotion. We are elevating the importance of JEDI work, and taking a step in the right direction of the structural changes needed for social transformation.

Pardis Mahdavi is dean of social sciences at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and directs the School of Social Transformation, and Scott Brooks is an associate professor with the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, both at Arizona State University .

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Diversity Statements

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Commonly, graduate students on the academic job market are being asked to submit a diversity statement as part of their application materials. The diversity statement requests they see are worded in many ways:

What is the purpose of these documents? A diversity statement demonstrates how you strive for equity-based practices in your teaching, research, mentoring, and/or service. In this case, equity-based practices refer to actions taken to actively address educational barriers for historically underrepresented and marginalized groups. These barriers can include implicit bias, overt prejudice, underrepresentation in materials, and many other factors that demonstrate how diversity and academia intersect. You might also write about your value and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion; your personal background; and the skills you are building (Sylvester 2019).  By drawing on your past experiences with equity-based and anti-discrimination work, you explain how you will apply these practices, skills, and knowledge to your potential future institution. Questions that might guide your responses to these requests include the following:

Diversity statements are good tools for self-reflection, allowing you to consider your equity and inclusion practices (or lack of) in regards to your teaching, research, mentorship, and service. Reflecting on and changing your practices may help you educationally support all your students, allow you to enact equitable policies, and help you  better understand the experiences of others and yourself. Addressing equity practices can lead to the inclusion of multiple voices, which can lead to open critique, reflection, and acceptance ( Adichie, 2009 ). It is also necessary to consider the multiple understandings, histories, and relationships of commonly used words related to diversity-work.

Diversity: "There are many different [people, identities, experiences, perspectives, approaches...] in my class." Inclusion: "I invite valid, rational, my class." Equity: "I address biases that lead to the dominance or invisible of my class." Justice: "I challenge policies that reinforce the dominance or invisibility of my class."

Looking to get more information? Watch this short video:

For graduate students applying to academic jobs, the diversity statement is usually two pages long and in a persuasive essay format, although there may be disciplinary differences. There are many ways to write a diversity statement (Sylvester et al. 2019). Here is a format that may be useful, if you are feeling unsure of where to begin:  Paragraph 1:  You can take different approaches to the beginning paragraph of your diversity statement. Some start with a personal story to situate their experiences and how they use those experiences to guide their actions. Sharing a personal story is not necessary and one study cites that applicant self-disclosures of diversity were uncommon in some fields, occurring in less than one quarter of the letters (Schmaling et al., 2014). Others start with a standard thesis - describing their argument. (What equity related issue needs to be addressed in academia/your field? What are you trying to solve?) Some prefer to write about how their discipline situates studying diversity and how they use these epistemologies to engage with students.  Paragraphs 2-4:  Similar to a  teaching statement , the diversity statement should include evidence to support your points.  Show  the reader that you think about inclusion and equity in your classroom practices through examples; do not simply tell the reader. These body paragraphs should use specific examples that highlight past equity work you have done and/or your plans for future practices. Many writers focus on their anti-discrimination work in relation to teaching, mentorship, research, and service. Paragraph 5:  You can conclude by explaining the specific ways in which you will use inclusion and justice-based practices in your research, teaching, and service at the institution in which you are applying. You may also want to explain what practices and knowledges you’re still working on cultivating. Anti-discrimination work is a lifelong practice, not something that is completed at a certain point.

Common Pitfalls with Diversity Statements

Who Is Doing This at IUB

Many  department-based pedagogy courses  are starting to train their graduate students in how to write diversity statements. However, you would need to check with each professor to determine whether or not this topic is discussed in the course. 

Many IU graduate students have written diversity statements that are used as examples in our workshops: 

When looking at these sample diversity statements, ask yourself what you know about this person's understanding and experiences with diversity and equity. What are you left still wondering about? Look at the organization of the paragraphs and how they connect back to the thesis (and what WAS the thesis?). Notice the inclusion or lack of specific examples.

For More Help or Information 

The CITL staff  conducts  extensive workshops  for graduate students every fall and spring semester on how to develop diversity statements. Additionally, a recording of our workshop on diversity statements exists on our Kaltura channel. Your department may also sponsor diversity statement workshops facilitated by the CITL – just contact us to set one up. You may also  contact the CITL team  to meet with a consultant to discuss how to craft your diversity statement or to set up a classroom observation . If you would like feedback on your diversity statement, reach out to the Writing Tutorial Services to set up a consultation.

Adichie, C. N. 2009 The Danger of a Single Story. Ted Talks.

Carnegie Mellon University's Global Communication Center has an  online resource  about diversity statements. 

Cole, T. 2012. The White-Savior Industrial Complex. The Atlantic.

Golash-Boza, T. 2016 The Effective Diversity Statement.  Inside Higher Ed.

Kelsky, K. 2014 The Professor Is In: Making Sense of the Diversity Statement.  Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Schmaling, K. B., Trevino, A. Y., Lind, J.R., Blume, A. W., & Baker, D. L. 2014, December 22. Diversity Statements: How Faculty Applicants Address Diversity.  Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. 

Smith, D. M. 2012 The American Melting Pot: A National and Popular Discourse. National Identities 4: 387-402.

Sylvester, Ching-Yune C., Laura Sanchez-Parkinson, Matthew Yettaw, and Tabbye Chavous 2019 The Promise of Diversity Statements: Insights and an Initial Framework Developed from a Faculty Search Process. Currents 1(1): 151-170.  Whitaker, Manya 2020 Don’ts in Writing your DEI Statement. The Chronicle of Higher Education .

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Useful indiana university information.

Diversity Statement

Main navigation, provost’s statement on diversity and inclusion.

Higher education has the mission to advance human welfare in a rapidly changing world. Institutions that are truly inclusive and embrace and advance diversity everywhere – in every program, every school and every area of operation – will be the most successful. Stanford must become one of those institutions!

Recognizing this, we must clearly articulate why diversity and inclusion are important to us, how these values support the mission of the university, and what goals we have set to advance our commitment to them.

Why is diversity important? 

Diversity is critical to our research and educational missions. ​.

At its core, a university is devoted to the discovery and transmission of knowledge. The enterprise cannot be limited in its methods and ways of thinking, or confined to one individual’s or a single community’s experiences. To solve complex social problems, to discover the next breakthrough in science, or to reach new heights of artistic expression, we must bring a broad range of ideas and approaches. 

At Stanford, we strive to ensure that a diversity of cultures, races and ethnicities, genders, political and religious beliefs, physical and learning differences, sexual orientations and identities is thriving on our campus. Such diversity will inspire new angles of inquiry, new modes of analysis, new discoveries and new solutions.

To advance education, it is essential to be exposed to views and cultures other than one’s own and to have one’s opinions and assumptions challenged. Such engagement expands our horizons, enables understanding across difference, prevents complacency and promotes intellectual breadth. 

Our diversity ensures our strength as an intellectual community. In today’s world, diversity represents the  key  to excellence and achievement.

The future is diverse. 

Our world is becoming increasingly diverse and ever more interconnected. 

To be fully engaged community members in the 21st century, we need to embrace diversity. In the classroom, in the workplace, on the playing field – indeed, in all aspects of life – we must be able to navigate difference, develop empathy and continue to learn the value of engagement with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.  

As researchers, teachers and students, we must engage intellectually with the societal changes that will result from increasing cultural diversity. 

The social problems we face in the future transcend all borders. We must be sure that the solutions we develop address the needs of all people and incorporate the input of multiple communities. By building diverse teams, we greatly expand the perspectives brought to bear on problems, ultimately leading to outcomes that benefit the broadest cross-section of our diverse society. 

We believe that Stanford’s future preeminence requires that we enthusiastically embrace our diverse future  now .

Social justice

Despite our current commitments to equity and access, our collective history is built on the efforts of populations that have been historically marginalized and denied equal access to higher education. For example, in the past, many U.S. colleges and universities imposed quotas – formal or informal – on students of certain religious or racial backgrounds, as well as by gender. In the present day, marginalization and inequity of opportunity persist within society at large. We must acknowledge our history and the cultural context we live in, while we focus on shaping a future where individuals from all backgrounds have the same opportunity to thrive.

Stanford has been part of this history. Stanford is built on land that was originally inhabited by the Muwekma Ohlone peoples. Senator Stanford’s wealth that was used to found the university was built with the labor of Chinese immigrant workers. Though the university was co-ed from its founding, Jane Stanford imposed a quota on women students in 1896. It was not until 1972 that the Board of Trustees voted to remove the gender quota entirely. In addition, in 2022 a university task force confirmed that Stanford took actions to suppress the admission of Jewish students in the 1950s and denied for years afterward that this had occurred; in response, the president of the university apologized for these actions.

In seeking to achieve its goals of creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all community members, Stanford has benefited from the input and advocacy of community members. Student activism in the late 1960s led to the creation of ethnic theme houses and community centers that now form a foundation for many communities on our campus. More recently, student  advocacy led Stanford to reevaluate the names of several buildings and streets and to rename some of them, recognizing that retaining the existing name in some cases was “inconsistent with the university’s integrity and harmful to its research and teaching missions and inclusiveness.”  

We  must  continue to evolve and become a better and more inclusive institution in our pursuit of the values we hold dear. 

Our commitment to progress: IDEAL

Advancing the university’s commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion is a key component of Stanford’s  long-range vision. The Presidential Initiative IDEAL – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in a Learning Environment – is working across the entire campus community, focusing on the areas of recruitment, research, education and engagement. 

The goals of IDEAL are to ensure:

We are optimistic about our ability to reach these goals. There are a number of efforts already in place aimed at the goals of IDEAL, and we are making great strides in many areas  –  from new student orientation and academic advising to faculty recruitment and professional development.

But many of these efforts are school or program-based and not yet designed to have broad institutional impact. With IDEAL, we hope to build on successful current endeavors to maximize their impact while creating new tools to share data and monitor progress in a way that is transparent to the campus community.

Challenges ahead

Achieving the goals for a diverse, equitable and inclusive future at Stanford will take hard work. Three immediate priorities for improvement are: 

We strongly believe that a diverse student body needs to learn from an equally diverse faculty. We are excited to see the growing diversity of our undergraduate and graduate students, which reflects more and more of the dynamic nature of our country and our world with a broad range of geographic, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural and educational backgrounds.  However, our efforts to increase the diversity of our faculty have not been as successful. 

Our goal is to improve the campus culture where all community members feel they belong and have access to the many opportunities offered here. In an inclusive environment, all community members have a voice and are actively engaged in the institution. This will not happen without a focused effort to determine the best practices to achieve such an environment and develop metrics to hold ourselves accountable.

Free expression within a diverse community– in the form of thoughtful and respectful debate– is an extraordinary learning opportunity for all.Breakthroughs in understanding come from considering a broad range of ideas– including those we might find objectionable– and engaging in rigorous testing of them through analysis and debate. We look forward to developing more ways to foster this effort.

The path forward

It’s important to understand that we envision IDEAL as much more than counting numbers and checking boxes. If we’re successful, it will result in significant cultural and institutional change for Stanford. 

And it will take all of us, working together, to make real and substantive progress. Stanford’s excellence is only possible through embracing diversity and ensuring our community is inclusive for all.

diversity statement college

diversity statement college

The Effective Diversity Statement

Tanya Golash-Boza gives faculty job applicants eight tips for writing a stellar diversity statement that stands out to search committees. 

diversity statement college

Faculty job postings are increasingly asking for diversity statements, in addition to research and teaching statements. According to the University of California at San Diego website , “the purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have professional skills, experience and/or willingness to engage in activities that would enhance campus diversity and equity efforts ” (emphasis added). In general, these statements are an opportunity for applicants to explain to a search committee the distinct experiences and commitment they bring to the table.

So, how do you write an effective diversity statement? If you are a job candidate who actually cares about diversity and equity, how do you convey that commitment to a search committee? (Note that if you do not care about diversity and equity and do not want to be in a department that does, don’t waste your time crafting a strong diversity statement -- and you need not read any farther in this essay.)

My first piece of advice is: do not write a throwaway diversity statement. Some job applicants think that writing a diversity statement that shows they actually care about diversity and equity may be too political. Thus, they write a blasé statement about, for example, how they encourage students to come to class in pajamas if they feel comfortable. That is not an effective strategy, because it does not show a genuine commitment to diversity and equity.

Of course, it is true that many faculty members overtly reject campus efforts to enhance diversity and equity. However, it is also true that search committee members who do not care about diversity do not read diversity statements. Just like search committee members who do not care about teaching gloss over teaching statements, those who do not care about diversity gloss over diversity statements. So, don’t bother writing a statement directed at faculty members who do not care about diversity. Write one for those faculty members who will take the time to read your statement carefully.

I can assure you that many faculty members truly care about diversity and equity and will read your statement closely. I have been in the room when the diversity statement of every single finalist for a job search was scrutinized. The candidates who submitted strong statements wrote about their experiences teaching first-generation college students, their involvement with LGBTQ student groups, their experiences teaching in inner-city high schools and their awareness of how systemic inequalities affect students’ ability to excel. Applicants mentioned their teaching and activism and highlighted their commitment to diversity and equity in higher education.

Here are seven additional suggestions to consider as you write your diversity statement.

Diversity statements are a relatively new addition to the job application packet. Thus, search committees are still developing assessment tools for such statements, and many campuses lack clear guidelines. Nevertheless, you can use this novelty to your advantage by writing a stellar statement that emphasizes your record of contributions to diversity and equity as well as your commitment to future efforts

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Center for Teaching

Developing and writing a diversity statement.

diversity statement college

What is a diversity statement, and what purpose does it serve?

What topics might be included in a diversity statement.

Writing Prompts

Adapting your statement for a job application, additional resources.

Increasingly, institutions of higher education are becoming more intentional and programmatic about their efforts to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity throughout campus life. As they do so, they are more focused on finding faculty who have experiences and competencies that can contribute to these efforts. Consequently, universities and colleges frequently are requesting that job applicants address how they can contribute to a culture of inclusion and equity within the campus community in the form of a “diversity statement.”

diversity statement college

Sometimes, a job ad will request that applicants address diversity in the cover letter or the teaching statement, but a request for a separate diversity statement is becoming more common. From the perspective of the university, the purpose of this document is to demonstrate that the applicant has commitments and capacities to contribute to the institution’s projects of inclusion and equity via his or her work, including scholarship, teaching, service, mentoring, and advising. Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence at Vanderbilt University, explains that asking faculty applicants to speak to inclusive excellence in their application materials or during the interview process shows the university’s commitment to inclusion and ensures that new faculty share that commitment (2018). The document is also an opportunity for applicants to highlight their understanding of the barriers faced by under-represented or marginalized groups, as well as their own experiences meeting the needs of a diverse population of students, staff, and peers. For example, The University of California at San Diego requests a separate “Contributions to Diversity” statement from all faculty applicants, and its published guidelines suggest describing “your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.” (2.1.18, ).

The wording that universities and colleges use in framing the request for a diversity statement varies widely. Below are a few examples from job ads posted in the 2017-2018 academic year.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology):

Applicants should submit a statement explaining how their teaching at the College will contribute to a culture of inclusion and campus diversity .

Denison University (private liberal arts university in Ohio, faculty posting in Anthropology):

A description of how the applicant would contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community at Denison through her/his teaching, research, and/or service .

Angelo State (public university in Texas, faculty posting in Engineering):

The required Other Document should be no longer than 2 pages and should discuss how the candidate would help achieve Angelo State University’s goal to attract and graduate more women, Hispanic, and students from other underrepresented groups .

Georgia College and State University (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology)

Qualified candidates should submit a research statement, and a diversity statement (describing how you incorporate diversity into your teaching, research, and/or service). Teaching, research, and diversity statements should be limited to two single-spaced pages.

Franklin & Marshall College (private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, Visiting Assistant Professor Position in Psychology)

Pursuant to the college’s vision for cultivating a diverse and inclusive community, the search committee will ask all applicants to address how their past and/or potential contributions might serve to advance F&M’s commitment to teaching and mentoring young people from a variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews th at arise from differences of culture and circumstance.

Since the diversity statement is an emerging genre in the context of faculty job applications, there are few set guidelines on what must be included. Keeping in mind that the purpose of the statement is to demonstrate a commitment to fostering diversity, the following elements may be appropriate:

Getting started

diversity statement college

It is worth noting that diversity statements are fundamentally about your values, commitments, and capabilities, and not necessarily your identity and the ways it shapes your work. If you choose to disclose your identity in a diversity statement, you should be aware of some issues.

Should You Self-Disclose Elements of Your Personal Identity?

Note that some people wish to share elements of their personal background in their actual statement, and many do not. Reflecting on your own frame of reference can be useful regardless. Some degree of transparency may help readers contextualize the experiences and approaches you detail in your statement. For example, you may wish to share that you grew up in a bilingual household or that you attended graduate school as an international student, if either has influenced your approach to mentorship or teaching. A 2014 study investigated the content of 191 cover letters for faculty positions in which applicants were specifically asked to address diversity and inclusion; less than a quarter of applicants self-disclosed some aspect of their personal identity (Schmaling, Trevino, Lind, Blume, & Baker, 2014). Despite the low percentage of applicants who chose to self-disclose and despite the authors’ note that they could not determine which applications advanced as a function of the applicants’ choice to self-disclose, they write that “self-disclosing one’s diversity may reconceptualize membership in a previously stigmatized group as an advantage, particularly if the self-identification reinforces a coherent academic and professional identity (Schmaling et al., 2014, p. 10)..”

However, be advised that there is risk in disclosing details that may carry stigma or induce subtle biases on the part of readers. For example, some research confirms that biases toward African Americans and women influence evaluation of written application materials (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012), specifically when the application is not exceptionally weak or exceptionally strong (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000). The potential benefit of self-disclosing one’s mental health history or sexual orientation, for example, should be carefully weighed against the risk. To be sure, an excellent statement can be written without sharing elements of personal identity, and some universities that request statements are beginning to highlight this. The University of San Diego’s published guidelines to writing a diversity statement, for example, emphasize their desire to identify candidates who share the institution’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “regardless of personal demographic characteristics.”

The following prompts are meant to help you identify areas of strength to highlight in your diversity statement. For each of the following areas, think about your past experience and what you plan to do in the future. You don’t need to answer every question, as all may not apply.

Research and Scholarship

Mentorship and Advising

After you have developed a statement that reflects your strengths and experiences related to diversity, inclusion, and equity, you may wish to tailor it for individual job applications. Be sure to do your homework about diversity-related programs and resources at the schools to which you are applying, and consider including how you plan to contribute to or expand existing programs at that institution. For example, if you have been particularly active in social justice initiatives and are applying to a school with no existing programs addressing race, power and privilege in higher education, it may be appropriate to propose a program modelled on something you’ve already done. However, you do not need to propose a new diversity-related program to write an effective diversity statement. Perhaps you envision your contribution as serving on faculty committees related to diversifying curriculum in your department or advising LGBT-student groups or research initiatives. Be honest about where you are and how you can contribute.

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