As a result of the work of several task forces exploring diversity in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior over the past several years, the following definition of diversity emerged:
Diversity refers to differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area. 1
Although far from being an exhaustive list of the social and cultural differences that exist among us as students, staff, and faculty, this definition serves to remind us that we all bring personal differences to our interactions with each other. In the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, we are each called on to use those personal differences to make a positive change in the world: in classrooms, clinics, community health centers, industries, gyms and sports centers, and more.
Whether we are teaching graduate or undergraduate students, planning for and teaching in P-12 classrooms, assisting clients in our varied clinics and practicum sites, or assisting potential and current students with their questions and needs, our goal is to help "foster an inclusive university community characterized by integrity, civility, shared governance and openness to and respect for different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives." 2
The School's dedication to this goal is shown through the various initiatives that in which our faculty and students are involved. For example, the student organization, PRIME, and Illinois Golden Apple attempt to increase the number of minority teacher candidates and provide highly qualified teachers in hard-to-staff school districts. The Diversity Education Project and Addressing Learning about Sexual Orientation (ALSO) are faculty initiatives that provide diversity workshops and other educational opportunities for faculty, students, and community members. Student groups within the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior also provide a variety of community service for underserved populations.
Recently, the School’s Diversity Committee has offered both faculty and student centered interactive workshops designed to create awareness about equity minded leadership, different forms of discrimination and the complexity of identity. The Diversity Committee provides resources to help guide the School's work in recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse faculty and student body and also works with the University Diversity Council to help coordinate diversity initiatives across the campus.
Multicultural educator Gary Howard has said, "Diversity is not a choice, but our responses to it certainly are. And to date, all indications point to the fact that our responses have not been adequate to deal with the full range of issues presented by the complexities of teaching in a multicultural nation." 3 The School of Education, Health and Human Behavior and SIUE are dedicated to insuring that our response to diversity truly celebrates the contribution of ALL people, and that the learning, teaching, scholarship, and service that we engage in supports a thriving environment in which no one has to worry that they won't be accepted or included.
1 Final report of the Multiculturalism Across the Curriculum Task Force, February, 2004
2 Achieving the SIUE Vision: Long Term Goals. http://www.siue.edu/about/goals.shtml
3 Howard, G.R. (1999) We Can't Teach What We Don't Know. NY: Teacher's College Press, p. 2.