Reframing the Dominant Diversity Discourse: Alternate Conversations for Creating Whole System Change
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts in higher education are decades old, yet progress continues to be slow and elusive for many campuses. Recent events in colleges and universities across the United States suggest that long-standing challenges related to access, equity and inclusion remain as entrenched and intractable as they have ever been, resulting in campus environments that may be unwelcoming or hostile to faculty, staff and students from underrepresented groups. One reason for the partial success of university D&I programs is that they overemphasize individual actors, attitudes and behaviors while neglecting the systemic, organizational cultures in which those actors reside. Drawing on the organization development and change literatures, this paper offers three alternate perspectives for reframing campus diversity work, arguing that all D&I initiatives must consider the 1) contextual, 2) multilevel and 3) systemic nature of change if they are to be robust and successful.