Foster Diversity as a Basis for Innovation & Excellence

Foster Diversity as a Basis for Innovation & Excellence

Trinity College Arts & Sciences has clearly and consistently articulated its deep commitment to diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity. To be a truly educated person, one must embrace and practice an appreciation for different disciplines, thought processes, modes of expression, backgrounds, and histories – in other words, engagement with the full range of knowledge and human experiences. Indeed, this is the core of the liberal arts education. Complex issues belie simple solutions, and diversity provides a way of thinking and using different perspectives, not only to more effectively solve today’s problems but to imagine future possibilities in an unscripted world. And finally, we seek to develop not just an inclusive environment for faculty, students, and staff, but a collaborative community that promotes a “culture of belonging,” so that diverse perspectives not only provide value but are publicly recognized for the value they add.

Our Goals

  • Clearly articulate our philosophy of diversity as a central tenet for new ideas and creativity 
  • Continue to diversify the faculty 
  • Raise the visibility of the scholarship and accomplishments of our diverse faculty 
  • Create strategies for Education, Conversation, and Communication 
  • Create and implement a Diversity Advisory Committee for faculty and staff as well as students 
  • Increase diversity among the academic deans, administration, and the Trinity Board of Visitors

Diversity & Inclusion

diversity logoDiversity is at the core of a liberal arts education—and at the very core of our institutional values. We believe that we can learn the most from those who are different from ourselves. As such, we also believe that diversity--in all its forms--is a driver for new ideas, creativity and academic excellence. To be a truly educated person, we believe we all should embrace and practice an appreciation for different disciplines, thought processes, modes of expression, and histories. We are dedicated each day to providing such an education, and we recognize that to do so, we must also be dedicated to ensuring inclusion of every member of our community.

We are committed to promoting a deep appreciation for the range of human difference and potential, a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship, and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth. We are dedicated to promoting an intellectual environment built on a commitment to free and open inquiry. And, we champion intellectual freedom and the courage to hold, articulate and defend and debate ideas, whether popular or not, as an essential value of the university.

Photo of students at Sustaining Dialogue event

Sustaining Dialogue Around Values, Beliefs, Meaning and Purpose in a Time of Polarization

In November 2017, Duke students and faculty shared their experiences, questions and potential solutions for engaging difference in a student-centered conversation entitled Sustaining Dialogue Around Values, Beliefs, Meaning and Purpose in a Time of Polarization. David Malone, Director of Duke Service-Learning, facilitated the conversation which featured Dean of Arts and Sciences Valerie Ashby and other leaders including Brandon Hudson, Duke Alumni and Director of Durham’s Urban Hope, Jayne Ifekwunigwe from Duke’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, Sam Miglarese, Director of the Duke/Durham Neighborhood Partnership, and Mohamad Chamas, a Duke senior currently studying Education, Literature, and Neuroscience.

Listen to understand, not to respond

“One thing I’ve been working on is to listen to understand, not to respond. We’re trained to fight and defend our opinions. And even though that fits in the classroom, maybe it doesn’t really fit that well in real life.” -Duke student

Teaching for Equity Class from 2016-2017

Teaching for Equity Program

Piloted in Trinity - Now Campus Wide

In 2015, Trinity College partnered with Provost Sally Kornbluth on a teaching enhancement program we call Teaching for Equity. The Teaching for Equity Fellows program helps faculty cultivate practical skills and strategies. Led by education consultants who specialize in racial justice, educational equality and culturally relevant pedagogy, the classes help faculty examine how they teach and become more aware of their own assumptions.

Faculty participants said they also learn to recognize when students themselves may be adversely affecting others in class. The program teaches strategies for faculty to engage their class in a way that promotes respect for everyone, overcomes inadvertent biases and diffuses any tensions.

Teaching for Equity has been transformational for our faculty fellows and brings great value to our classrooms. The program has now been expanded to include cohorts from others schools at Duke.

Learn more

The SPIRE program promotes diversity in STEM fields

Duke SPIRE Program

Cultivating Diversity in STEM Fields

In 2017/18, we launched the Duke SPIRE Fellows, a deeply responsive mentoring and academic support system for undergraduates with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Our goal is to attract and mentor students from diverse backgrounds who otherwise may not have chosen to pursue a major or career in STEM. Duke SPIRE--which stands for STEM Pathways for Inclusion, Readiness and Excellence Fellows--builds on the power of learning communities. Such community groups take classes together, work through homework and projects together, and who support each other. SPIRE also provides each Fellow with an engaged role-model mentor, expanded peer tutoring and academic skills instruction.

Celebrating 50 Years of Black Faculty Scholarship

In 2017, we celebrated 50 years of Black faculty scholarship through a year-long series of events, videos, and the launch of a new distinguished lecture series. We are proud of our faculty's scholarly legacy, and recognize the challenges of forging a presence for Black scholars at Duke in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. We honor their scholarly achievements and their invaluable contributions to the university, to our community, and to Durham, North Carolina.

Priscilla Wald, Sherryl Broverman, Calvin Howell

Dean's Diversity Award

In 2016, we established a new honor to recognize faculty members whose approach to research, teaching and service embody our ideals of diversity as a driver for innovation and excellence. 

Nuclear physicist Calvin Howell was the inaugural awardee, and was recognized for his support of Duke's Mellon Mays program--a cornerstone STEM effort that provides summer science research opportunities for undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups and K-12 outreach to encourage. Biologist Sherryl Broverman was recognized in 2017 for her work with the Women's Institute of Secondary Education and Research. She has steadfastly promoted diversity by improving access of women students to STEM education. English professor Priscilla Wald was recognized in 2018 for her enduring commitment to faculty diversity.

Strengthening the Women in Science Community

Cultivating a strong and supportive culture for women scientists will help us with hiring & retention, and recruitment & retention of students in STEM. In 2016/17, we convened a group of women faculty leaders in the sciences (from various ranks and disciplines) to hear their perspectives on the culture of women in science at Duke, and to solicit their feedback on how Trinity can better foster a supportive environment.

We then hosted a luncheon that was attended by 40 women faculty members in the sciences. This provided an opportunity for community building and for a moment to celebrate recent accomplishments. We are now developing a plan for continued engagement with the addition of a lecture series, ongoing opportunities for community building, and mentorship specifically for women scientists.