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Inclusive Excellence Resource Guide


Culture represents the vast structure of behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, habits, beliefs, customs, language, rituals ceremonies and practices “peculiar” to a particular group of people and which provides them with (1) a general design for living and (2) patterns for interpreting reality. The model of culture developed here consists of there levels (1) cultural factors; (2) cultural aspects; and (3) cultural manifestations (Nobles, 1996)


All differences that make us unique and give us unique perspectives


The study of knowledge and the ways of knowing It’s the subconscious set of knowledge and realities that exist so deeply within you and that form the basis of how you see the world and the lens through which you view it. 

(Omowale Akintunde)


Inclusive of and centered on differences, equity seeks to provide people what they need in order to succeed, inclusive of differences. Recognizing that inequity is historic, equity seeks to disrupt systems of inequality and inequity in their structural, institutionalized, and interpersonal/individual forms in order to reverse the compounding impact of inequality over time.

Ultimately, we envision a society in which each and every person has equitable access to the full and equal application of the rights of citizenship, including safety and security in all their forms, access to a quality and affirming education, the right to self-determination and plentiful opportunities to pursue happiness. (Modified from Radd, Generett, Gooden & Theoharis, Under Review)


Valuing differences in social identities and cultural backgrounds. Actively fostering welcoming climates.

Inclusive Excellence

Inclusive Excellence is a framework for student success launched by the Association of American Colleges and universities (AAC&U) in 2002. Inclusive excellence commits to the core principles of diversity and inclusion, with an explicit emphasis on equity and excellence in student learning. Making excellence inclusive is the guiding principle for access, student success and high quality learning. It links to two critical commitments: commitment to diversity and equity and commitment to high quality liberal arts education. The goal is to advance an equitable vision for liberal arts education, while at the same time emphasizing the value of such an education within and across the diverse and evolving student populations in the United States.

Mattering & Marginality

Mattering: state in which a person is important, appreciated, and valued.

Marginality: state in which a person feels ignored, shunned, separated, or on the “fringe.” 

Race, Ethnicity, Nationality

Race is a social construction that is supposedly used to the perceived color of a person’s skin, but is actually a combination of physical characteristics. Importantly, there is no biological basis for race, but in our society, people identify themselves racially, and also seek to identify others racially.

Ethnicity refers to a person’s nationality or belonging to a cultural group. Ethnicity normally has similar traits, such as a common language, common heritage, and cultural similarities within the group. Other variables that play a role in ethnicity, though not in all cases, include a geographical connection to a particular place, common foods and diets, and perhaps a common faith.

Culture: a people’s way of life that is socially learned, shared, and transmitted from person to person and often across generations; a set of beliefs, traditions and values held by a group of people.

Nationality refers to the place where the person was born and/or holds citizenship. However, nationality often can be determined by place of residence, ethnicity, or national identity.

Social construction

Social Construction refers to the fact that, as a society we make and give meaning to ourselves and the world around us. This extends from material things like tools, money, and computers to aspects of individual identities that only mean what groups of people have collectively agreed they mean. (Radd, Generett, Gooden & Theoharis, under review) Importantly, race, gender, dis/ability, - Race is not biological. It is a social construct. There is no gene or cluster of genes common to all blacks or all whites. Were race “real” in the genetic sense, racial classifications for individuals would remain constant across boundaries. Yet, a person who could be categorized as black in the United States might be considered white in Brazil or colored in South Africa.

Social Justice

Rights based and access based focus. All members of a community should have equal access to all resources available to them within that community. Resources refer to an array of factors that contribute to human functioning including sense of safety, well being, pay, voice, access to power, and basic things such as food, shelter, employment.

©2014 St. Catherine University Library, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA