A Common Language

We must share a common language and understanding of language in order to foster an anti-racist and inclusive campus community. This is especially true because not only does language change, but some of the paradigms that were acceptable in the past are no longer sufficient for supporting the institutional transformation that we seek. For example, we are increasingly moving away from the terms diversity and inclusion and towards a framework that centers equity, justice and anti-racism. Read more about why and how these distinctions matter.


The policy or practice of consciously and frequently engaging actively in ways that oppose racism.


Refers to the wide range of differences that exist across individuals (psychological, physical and social differences) including but not limited to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, gender expression, age, ability, etc.


The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.


The act of creating involvement, environments and empowerment in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate.


A social construct which divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.

Cultural Competence

Refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components:

  1. Awareness of one's own cultural worldview
  2. Attitude towards cultural differences
  3. Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews
  4. Cross-cultural skills.

Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period.


A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification and the political needs of a society at a given period of time.


This resource was adapted from existing resources provided by the National Multicultural Institute, University of California-Berkeley-Diversity Terms, National Conference for Community and Justice, Oregon State University, Texas A & M University, Arizona State University – Intergroup Relations Center, and The National Center for Transgender Equality, Cleveland State University, Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Deardorff, Darla (2006) “The Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization at Institutions of Higher Education in the United States.” Journal of Studies in International Education 10:241-266, Adams, Bell and Griffin-Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice.