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Embracing Diversity

Across our campus, community members are committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture. Discover how different schools and departments are using their individual talents and resources as well as collaborating with each other to create an environment that welcomes everyone.

Cross-Campus Collaborations

AU Connects was launched in September, 2017 in the context of a recent racist hate crime and on-going racial tensions at American University. It is a campus-wide inclusion initiative to provide trained facilitators to help guide constructive conversations around issues of race and ethnicity. Facilitators can be requested from all constituencies across campus including students, staff, and faculty. These facilitators are students in five relevant AU graduate programs and/or staff who have previous experience in areas of diversity and group process. They have been trained to custom design sessions based on the particular context and stated goals of the campus client. AU Connects Facilitators are a resource that can be utilized proactively to help the campus engage in constructive, community-building conversations around race/ethnicity based on the lived experiences of the participants or to provide spaces for members of the community to debrief challenging moments, racist incidents or other events where new learning and understanding can come out of painful experiences. Information about how to request AU Connects Facilitators and other details about the program can be found on the website.

The Market is a student-operated food pantry located on the lower level of Letts Hall at American University. It is managed by the collaborative oversight of the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and the Center for Community Engagement & Service. A key food source is intended to be the Capital Area Food Bank's highly regarded pantry partner system.

Visit The Market

Schools & Colleges

At the core of the College of Arts and Sciences is a fundamental commitment to diverse and inclusive communities. With 18 Departments and more than 50 majors that span the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences, we have, by our very design, a unique appreciation of the importance, and the challenges, of making an intellectually and experientially diverse community truly inclusive.

In keeping with our mission, we actively seek to recruit and retain students, staff and faculty from historically under-represented groups in higher education. We believe that a quality education values and reflects the breadth of human experience, knowledge and creativity. It is this commitment that helps us to develop insight, solve problems and deepen understanding in all of our fields of study.

As part of our enduring commitment to diversity and inclusion, we offer a wide array of courses and majors designed to help students think more broadly about inequality and the related intellectual, cultural, institutional and personal responsibilities for creating inclusive and equitable environments. You'll find these courses in disciplines across the College but most especially concentrated in the Critical Race, Gender, Culture Collaborative and the Departments of Anthropology, Literature, Sociology, and World Languages & Cultures. The College also offer a certificate in Leadership & Ethical Development that provides students with the intellectual and experiential skills they'll need to take key leadership roles in the conversations that shape our futures.

Outside of the classroom, we organize speaker series, meetups and mentoring opportunities to strengthen, enrich and complicate conversations about inclusion. These are driven by student and faculty interests and include the long-established Women in Science group, as well as more recent opportunities for First Generation College students and Latinx communities. There is always something on the horizon for us. Look for the new Anti-Racism Research and Policy Center opening soon!

In Spring 2015, Kogod School of Business formed the Diversity and Inclusion Team to support the initiatives of AU, our dean, faculty, staff, and students.  The Team works to foster an inclusive environment at the Kogod School of Business, one where all individuals are respected and treated equitably. We work with different constituencies within Kogod in order to advance diversity in many ways, including the following: Aiding in the recruitment and retention of a diverse group of students, staff and faculty; promoting diversity through trainings and programming; and celebrating the successes of diverse students, faculty and staff. 

Accomplishments of the Team include developing an inclusion-focused syllabus statement, surveyed Kogod faculty and staff to establish a baseline of work to be done, and created a faculty/staff workshop series with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion that has hosted six workshops over the past year. Additionally, student-focused programming initiatives like The Business of Diversity show the connection between diversity, inclusion, and business through panels, speakers, and other events.

SOC started AY 16-17 with its annual faculty & staff retreat, which kicked off with a facilitated morning session devoted to meaningful inclusion. This is the second year SOC has devoted a half day to inclusion discussions & self reflection on bias and perceptions, each lead by an external facilitator. With Dean Rutenbeck, SOC's Diversity Committee, issued an RFP for a firm to assist SOC with developing its inaugural strategic inclusion plan. A firm was selected and we are embarking on a series of listening sessions with SOC students, faculty & staff and a review of events, guests, activities & demographic data. This 5 year plan will be launched at our August 2017 retreat, with specific goals and milestones to help us be accountable.

The Diversity Committee, comprised of faculty, staff and (added last year) a student representative has also been working on updating SOC's diversity website. A list of potential diverse class guest speakers, experts in their field, was collected from faculty, and will be posted on SOC's internal blog for reference. Sample syllabus language on diversity, inclusion and gender identity has been shared by SOC faculty so these statements can be used by colleagues. SOC is currently administering its second annual Faculty & Staff Climate Survey on meaningful inclusion in our community, which helps inform the Dean and the Diversity Committee planning for the next year's activities and identify areas that need specific focus and attention. We also hosted a SOC Safe Space Training with CDI. The Dean, faculty & staff received their Safe Space placards and we plan on working with CDI to host additional trains in the new AY. 

Diversity & Inclusion at SOC

At the American University School of Education, we strive to study and improve practices that reflect our commitment to develop more effective and socially just systems of education. Our mission is rooted in our commitment to promote diversity and to advance equity and inclusion in all educational settings, including higher education.

As a university unit, we seek to increase diversity along many dimensions, including race and ethnicity, gender and gender expression, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, language, national origin, US resident status, religious commitment, age, and (dis)ability status. We work, as a unit, to promote and extend opportunities and outcomes for members of those groups that have been historically marginalized and/or have experienced profound inequities. We also recognize that without building critical mass of these groups among our students, staff, and faculty, difference can be isolating rather than productive.

In our pursuit of equity and excellence, we commit to the following:

  • Institutionalizing search, admissions, and hiring practices that facilitate our ability to recruit a highly qualified and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff;
  • Removing barriers to and providing support and encouragement for full participation of all community members in our collective work; and
  • Allocate significant time and resources to enhance our curriculum and pedagogical approaches to reflect and further strengthen our commitment to the roles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the teaching and learning process (e.g., restructuring teacher preparation curriculum to reflect integration of equity and diversity principles, institute Dean’s Speaker Series to bring scholars who study educational justice and school reform to campus community).

The SIS Exploring Identities Series creates space to consider the impact of missing voices in the field of international affairs. Each installment of this interactive event series focuses on a particular identity group or diversity-related topic while encouraging all members of the community to benefit from these opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds. The Series aims to increase the culture of inclusion at SIS while also preparing future SIS alumni to approach their future careers with a sharper eye toward inclusive practices in their work environments. This Series challenges all members of the SIS community to consider the ways in which their own identities-whether majority or minority groups-impact their work, their decision-making, their perspectives, and-importantly-what becomes possible when people surround themselves with individuals from different identity groups.

For more information on the SIS Exploring Identities Series and other SIS diversity and inclusion initiatives, please visit the SIS Diversity & Inclusion webpage.

The School of Public Affairs is committed to its multifaceted diversity and inclusion efforts. First, the school is launching a joint faculty-student initiative to better understand the complex dynamic and identify solutions to issues in the classroom. Second, the school continues its long-standing commitment to its diversity post-doc program, while also examining ways to increase faculty diversity throughout the school. Lastly, SPA is in the early stages of founding a diversity alliance for schools of public affairs at universities across the country.

The School of Professional & Extended Studies offers career advancement and professional development opportunities to learners of all ages from a wide range of backgrounds. Through its academic seminars and internships, students gain greater insights and hands-on experience with key issues of the day including questions of race, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic challenges facing the US and the world today.

The school maintains active partnerships with many universities and colleges designated as minority serving institutions (MSI) such as:

  • Bay Path University, Long Meadow, MA
  • Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta
  • Morehouse College, Atlanta
  • Spelman College, Atlanta
  • Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans
  • St Mary’s University, San Antonio
  • Hampton University, Hampton

The school regularly hosts Dean’s Forums focused on cultural competence and/or diverse contributions to professional practice.

In spring 2017, the school hosted Ambassador Bonnie D. Jenkins, U.S. State Department Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs. During the fall semester 2016, as part of the Courageous Conversations series, Apoorva Gandhi, VP at Marriott International, presented the case study of Marriott’s cultural competence training for employees in a presentation titled, "How Cultural Competence Helps Your Bottom Line". Earlier in the fall, SPExS hosted a panel discussion on university-community partnerships in support of more diverse and inclusive communities both on and off campus. Panelists included:

  • Saafir Rabb II, CEO of Interculture, Inc., a business and community leader based in Baltimore specializing in cross-cultural competency, and former advisor to President's Obama's Public Diplomacy transition team, and an Imam in Baltimore
  • Armando Trull, WAMU, and chronicler of local community life around the metropolitan region;
  • Robin Adams, Assistant Director, AU Center for Community Engagement & Service, and Director for the DC Reads program with extensive experience in government-non-profit-community partnerships;
  • Mohamed Nimer, Assistant Professor, School of Professional & Extended Studies, a scholar of Islam in the World and North American Muslim communities.


The AU Library has always advanced many diversity and inclusion related initiatives. In 2013, the Library established dedicated Diversity and Inclusion committees, which, along with others within the Library, foster awareness of diversity and inclusion issues through workshops, suggested resources, recruiting best practices, library service offerings such as the Gen Ed textbook initiative, and programming, such as our Exploring Social Justice series. Additionally, the AU Library is one of 4 founding members of the Diversity Alliance, a group of 29 libraries across the country that provides learning opportunities for new librarians of color to develop in the profession. Members of our staff and faculty are actively researching and presenting in the areas of diversity and inclusion in the profession, and have been invited speakers at major library association conferences.