In 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in advancing campus diversity as a necessary component of educational excellence. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) was a signatory on an amicus brief in support of the court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas (Fisher II). Our position was grounded in research demonstrating that diversity on college and university campuses, and in the curriculum, promotes student success and satisfaction by fostering the capacities to think critically, speak across differences, bridge racial divides, and engage as informed citizens in collaborative problem-solving that addresses critical social issues.
AAC&U reaffirms the importance of diversity and equity as essential to fulfilling the promise of American higher education. Two of AAC&U’s recent initiatives are centered on leading curricular and cocurricular change in higher education to promote diversity. The first is the creation of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at higher education institutions across the country, supported by grants from Newman’s Own Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This multiyear effort is designed to engage and empower campus and community stakeholders to break down racial hierarchies and create an ascendant narrative about race in their communities. In addition, AAC&U is partnering with the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), with funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, to help colleges and universities make interfaith cooperation an institutional priority and establish models for increased curricular and cocurricular experiences that enable students to navigate deep differences across lines of religious belief and worldview. We invite all institutions of higher education to join us in these endeavors and to make use of our educational resources.
To meet the demands of equity and excellence in higher education, all students must be given the opportunity to address unscripted problems in the context of a diverse nation and globally interdependent, multicultural world. This goal cannot be achieved without the creation of diverse campus communities. Indeed, identifying and overcoming the institutional structures and hidden barriers that undermine diversity is an imperative, not only for delivering a twenty-first-century liberal education that prepares students to thrive in work, citizenship, and life, but for carrying out our nation’s historic mission of educating for democracy.
Selected AAC&U Resources on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
- A Vision for Equity
- Bringing Quality and Equity Together
- America’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education
- Step Up & Lead for Equity: What Higher Education Can Do to Reverse Our Deepening Divides
- Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: A Campus Guide for Self-Study and Planning
- “Academic Freedom and Educational Responsibility”
- A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future
- The Drama of Diversity and Democracy: Higher Education and American Commitments (Second Edition 2011)