Inclusive Excellence Statements

September 30, 2016 / By: Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of the Center for Faculty Development, Professor of Psychology

Several faculty members took part in our August workshop, “Preparing for Day One” – the foundational workshop for our year-long Inclusive Classroom Institute – and followed up by creating “Inclusive Excellence Statements” to include in a syllabus and discuss with their class during the first week. Below are some inspiring examples – and comments from faculty on student response. See our Inclusive Excellence web page for more examples of these statements.

Dominic Longo, Theology Department and Co-Director of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center

The three classes I have used this statement with have all responded quite well to it. One or more students in each group voiced appreciation for the specific welcome to them as “different” in a certain way. They would then say something about being Protestant/ non-religious/ non-American/ non-straight or whatever that sometimes has them feel like an “outsider” at UST. The statement and our group discussion have indeed seemed to have the intended effect of helping to create a space which students can enter more confidently with all that they are.


“Brave space” in this inclusive classroom

The dialogues that we have in this course, both in small groups and as a large group, will go into some of our personal values and beliefs, including ones that we and perhaps our families hold most dear. The content and questions on which our dialogues will focus will relate to theological dimensions of such topics as sex, race, our bodies, the erotic, gender, culture, and political power. All of these and other aspects of who we are as subjects and as human beings interrelate.

All ethnicities, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, gender expressions, sexual orientations, body types, sexes, religious affiliations and non-affiliations, theological commitments and agnosticisms, including atheism, are welcome here. Among us are undoubtedly different experiences, worldviews, and relationships toward religion and faith. To the extent that we each bring forward our unique and full selves, we will deepen the learning for ourselves and each other.

For the sake of personal growth and theological learning, I thus aspire as professor and facilitator to co-create with you a space in our classroom that elicits bravery from each of us. To show up with our full selves, to articulate our actual ways of seeing the world, to listen with a mind and heart open to truly different viewpoints – all of this takes profound courage. I urge you to take risks for the sake of learning and connecting with one another, and to take responsibility for your intentions and your actual impact on others. I will do my absolute best to do the same. Whatever controversies may come up, let us engage them and each other with civility.

Peter Gregg, Communication and Journalism Department

On the first day I incorporated the discussion of that part of the syllabus into a broader conversation about creativity and feedback. In this class so far we have had good, productive and engaging conversations about the creative work everyone has been doing. I feel that the feedback has been constructive, insightful, and focused the work. I've heard from a few students how positive and engaging they find the feedback process in class.


Part of what makes university life interesting, challenging, exciting, and rewarding is a willingness to engage the complexity of human experience and background. In this class, that complexity also contributes to our creativity and potential as producers of media content. After all, we write what we know and experience. 

For our class to be successful, everyone should feel they can contribute and learn in a supportive environment. We will treat every individual with respect, dignity, and civility. Each of us shares the responsibility for making our class and the university into a positive and better place to live, work, and learn.

For the production space and the classroom to be successful, we need to make sure that our insights, analysis, comments, and production work is respectful of differences. While we may be critical and point out weaknesses of argument or work it is not a personal assessment. We need to be sure that our work does not discriminate or create a hostile environment. Respect each other’s right to their opinions and their individuality.

There is zero tolerance for racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory language and behavior in our class. No one should ever feel that they have been targeted or threatened in our class. Know that sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and/or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns.

Meliha Ceric, History Department             


One of the learning objectives for this class is to raise awareness of diversity within human history and the importance of intercultural learning. While this is an American history survey course, it is not all about the U.S. and its history. We will study the U.S. and people who live and work here, as well as histories of other parts of the world and how the U.S. has interacted with them.

Personal experiences are one of the most important ways to learn history and we encourage people of all nationalities and ethnicities, those who are religious and those who are not, people of all ages, disabilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and genders and gender identities to share their experiences and perspectives with the rest of us. We acknowledge that many topics discussed in this class can be sensitive and controversial subjects and that we may not always agree with each other opinions, but we will conduct all our discussions with respect for each other.

Tyler Schipper, Economics Department

I think students were surprised to see a statement like this in a course (Macroeconomic Theory) which is not traditionally thought of as being controversial. It may have set a tone for more open "current event" conversations that happen at the beginning of most of my lectures.


Classroom Dialogue: Occasionally in this class we will discuss difficult topics related to race, gender, inequality, class, and oppression. Each of you comes into this class with a different perspective that can be shared to enhance our understanding of these issues. I ask that you enter these conversations with respect, curiosity, and cultural humility. You should be open to alternative perspectives and willing to revise beliefs that are based on misinformation. As a general rule, your ideas and experiences can always be shared during these conversation but please refrain from dismissing the experiences of others. Personal attacks of any kind will not be tolerated.