What is Diversity?
Diversity describes the similarities and differences that people have. Luther is actively committed to educating people from diverse backgrounds and to creating a campus environment where people are treated fairly and encouraged to develop the skills that they need to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Luther College developed a definition of diversity to promote a common understanding of the term.
Diversity encompasses complex differences and similarities in perspectives, identities, and points of view among members of an institution as well as among individuals who make up the wider community. Diversity includes important and interrelated dimensions of human identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, socio-economic status, nationality, citizenship, religion, sexual orientation, ability and age. These differences are important to understand but they cannot be used to predict any individual’s values, choices or responses.
Understanding differences involves recognizing and appreciating the intercultural dynamics, social identities, and the wide range of cultural options that diversity provides for everyone. An important part of understanding diversity that is often overlooked is that it includes similarities as well as differences. Understanding that we have similar interests or beliefs can encourage cooperation and cohesion. A commitment to understanding and appreciating differences recognizes that disparities in social and economic opportunity among groups often reflect the continuing impact of racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and bigotry.
Valuing diversity involves understanding how overlapping and multiple identities relate to patterns of socialization and affiliation. These patterns influence the way people understand and interpret the world. Diversity enhances the intellectual, emotional, economic, moral, and spiritual life of the community. Achieving a more diverse learning environment is seen as a way to improve education for all students while promoting respect for each of us as individuals.