Diversity & Inclusion Key Terms & Definitions

Secondary Navigation

Diversity & Inclusion Key Terms & Definitions

There may be many definitions of the words or phrases below, but the definitions provided indicate how the Strategic Inclusion Committee has defined them for the purposes of this document.

Academic Success – Demonstrated student achievement through indicators such as grade point average, rigorous coursework, acceptance to program major, persistence towards graduation, and graduation.

Access(ible) – Opportunities for students to participate in curricular and co-curricular offerings provided by an educational institution. Removing barriers and providing support for historically underserved or underrepresented students to take advantage of those opportunities.

Affinity Groups – Groups or programs that connect individuals based on interests, identities, and circumstances.

Campus Climate – The perceived level of respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential reflected in the attitudes, behaviors, and standards of the college community.

Co-curricular Learning – Learning that takes place outside of a traditional classroom (or curriculum) that directly relates to an education experience. Examples include clubs, organizations, workshops, study abroad, internships, symposia, conferences, and lectures.

Culturally Relevant/Responsible – Recognizing, understanding, and applying attitudes and practices that are sensitive to and appropriate for people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

Culture – The ideas, values, beliefs, norms, language, traditions, and artifacts of a particular group.

Diversity – Differences in age, ethnic origin, national origin, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, marital status, ability, religious beliefs, creeds, and income.

Early Alert – A process in which faculty can refer student behaviors that have been deemed strong indicators for dropping out of college.

Equity/Equitable – Not to be confused with equality, which seeks parity in the treatment of individuals and groups, equity seeks parity in the achievement of desired outcomes. Equity may, in fact, require “unequal” treatment, such as a deaf or hard of hearing student receiving an ASL interpreter to successfully complete a course.

Ethnicity – A distinct concept from race, the U.S. Census Bureau defines ethnicity or origin as “the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States.”

First - Generation Student – A student whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have not completed a recognized bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

Gender Expression – A term that refers to the ways in which we each manifest gender, often involving aspects of masculinity or femininity. It is usually an extension of our “gender identity,” our innate sense of our gender. Each of us expresses gender every day by the way we style our hair, select our clothing, or even the way we stand. Our appearance, speech, behavior movement, and other factors signal that we feel–and wish to be understood–in a certain way relating to gender. gender.

Gender Identity – The sense of “being” male, female, genderqueer, agender, etc. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy. For transgender people, gender identity may differ from physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are separate and that you cannot assume how someone identifies in one category based on how they identify in another category.

Global – Learning experiences directly connected to international communities, cultures, and contexts.

Inclusion – Organizational strategies and practices that promote meaningful social and academic interactions among persons and groups who differ in their experiences, their views, and their traits.

Inclusive Excellence – Inclusive excellence strives to exceed policies and quotas to create a vibrant, welcoming community for all. It shifts the responsibilities of diversity and inclusion away from a particular office or department to all members of the college community. Above all, inclusive excellence is the recognition that diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence are essential to the overall excellence of any higher education institution that seeks to prepare its students for an increasingly diverse and globalized society.

(Inter)Cultural Competence – An ability to learn about and interact effectively with people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Areas of cultural competence include awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, attitude towards cultural differences, knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and cross-cultural skills.

Intercultural Engagement – Educational opportunities, events, and programs that invite individuals to experience new cultural contexts with the intent of developing greater cultural competence.

Intergroup Dialogue – A facilitated face-to-face discussion with the objective of creating understanding and healthier interaction between two or more social identity groups.

Learning Communities – A group of people actively engaged in learning together and learning from each other to explore common themes and encourage partnerships with professors and peers.

LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQA, TBLG – These acronyms refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Asexual or Ally. Although all of the different identities within “LGBT” are often lumped together (and share sexism as a common root of oppression), there are specific needs and concerns related to each individual identity.

Multicultural – A collective variety of cultures. Goals for multicultural education include cultural competence, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

Personal Safety – A person’s sense of safety as it relates to social, intellectual, physical, and cultural interactions and spaces.

Safe Spaces – Spaces where students, community members, and employees feel socially and physically safe to represent their full identities and share their unique perspectives.

Underrepresented – Groups whose participation in higher education, particularly in the state of Minnesota, has been historically impeded due to age, ethnic origin, national origin, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, marital status, disability, religious beliefs, creeds and income.

Meet Our Students and Alumni