Diversity and Its Benefits for Higher Education: A Research-Based Perspective

Wed, 06/15/2016 - 9:30am
Drachman Hall, room B109

Jeffrey F. Milem
Dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education
University of California, Santa Barbara

The educational benefits of student diversity are often a key aspect of the stated mission of many colleges and universities, central to how they define themselves and seek to operate. As such, enrolling and educating a diverse student population is a fundamental interest for many institutions throughout the United States. However, as state and federal developments illustrate, this interest can raise questions from the public and the courts that institutions must be prepared to address.

A major challenge that higher education leaders and educators face is to learn from and leverage what we know, while also doing more to translate general findings to specific contexts to ensure that our institutions’ mission-driven diversity and access goals and enrollment efforts lead to meaningful interactions and experiences for students, faculty, and other key stakeholders.

With a special focus on racial and ethnic diversity, this talk is intended to support those efforts by:

  • Surveying the current research landscape related to diversity in higher education for areas of strength and areas in need of further exploration;
  • Suggesting prospective research directions that may inform action within individual institutions and in the broader higher education community;
  • Articulating the conditions that must be in place if we are to achieve the benefits that we espouse and seek; and
  • Identifying policy and practice implications for institutions in a shifting political and legal landscape.