Key Terms

Intersectionality: A theory and methodology developed in feminist studies, intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) reveals and explains the ways in which identity categories, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, ability and other axes of identity, intersect to produce multiple and varied lived experiences and inequalities. Intersectionality helps us understand how our multidimensional racialized, gendered, and sexualized social identities shape our experiences of power and oppression.

The following working definitions are a critical component of A Strategic Plan for Inclusion, Respect and Equity(ASPIRE):

Inclusion: The active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity - in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect - in ways that increase one's awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within (and change) systems and institutions.

Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, language, learning styles and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, country of origin and ability status as well as cultural, political, religious or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

Equity (student focus): The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations to have equal access to and participate in educational programs that are capable of closing the achievement gaps in student success and completion (Association of American Colleges & Universities Website, 2011).

Equity (employee focus): The creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations of employees (faculty and staff) to have equal access to professional growth opportunities and resource networks that are capable of closing the demographic disparities in leadership roles in all spheres of institutional functioning (Clayton-Pederson, 2011; Adapted from the University of Southern California's Center for Urban Education's Equity Scorecard™).

Cultural Competence: The state of having and applying knowledge and skill in four areas: awareness of one's own cultural worldview; recognition of one's attitudes toward cultural differences; realization of different cultural practices and worldviews; and thoughtfulness in cross-cultural interaction.  Over an extended period of time, individuals and organizations develop the wisdom and capability to:

  • examine critically how cultural worldviews influence perceptions of power, dominance and inequality; and
  • behave honorably within the complex dynamics of differences and commonalities among humans, groups and systems.