Incorporating Diversity

Incorporating diversity involves designing your course with varied course materials, teaching methods, and learning activities that accommodate a diverse group of students with a range of learning modalities, abilities, experiences, and cultures. It may also mean that issues of diversity are part of the course learning outcomes and topics related to diversity are embedded within the course content.

Why Incorporate Diversity?

Incorporating diversity into a course allows you to:

  • Create an inclusive course climate.
  • Connect with and reach out to a wider range of students.
  • Motivate students (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009).
  • Create more positive educational experiences for students.
  • Help students gain an understanding of, and respect for, multiple perspectives and backgrounds.

Considerations for Incorporating Diversity

  • What personal cultural influences or teaching styles might influence your choices in course design?
  • What cultural influences or learning modalities might influence your students' motivation to learn and their expectations of the course?

Getting Started with Incorporating Diversity

There are several ways to build inclusive classrooms. Review the following suggestions to get started and/or consider attending the Center's Faculty Institute for Diversity:

  • Include issues of diversity as a learning goal of your course and tie current events and local histories to classroom activities.
  • Communicate your dedication to diversity by including diversity and disability statements in your syllabus. You might also include a classroom code of conduct to highlight expectations for classroom behavior. 
  • Critically examine your course from multiple viewpoints to include materials that represent various perspectives accurately (consider gender, nationality, ethnicity, age, sexuality, political affiliation, socio-economic status, ability, linguistic background, etc.). 
  • Be inclusive of various learning modalities and preferences. Plan to utilize a variety of teaching techniques. When designing assignments, try to provide a choice in how students can demonstrate their learning. Refer to inclusive teaching strategies for ideas.
  • Whenever possible, incorporate universal design for learning principles into your instructional methods and materials in order to increase accessibility to students of various abilities.


Brown, Susan C. (2010). Students as cultural beings. In Moira A. Fallon & Susan C. Brown (Eds.), Teaching inclusively in higher education (pp. 17-37). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.

Cohn, Ellen R., & Gareis, John W. (2007). Faculty members as architects: Structuring diversity-accessible courses. In Jerome Branche, John Mullennix, and Ellen R. Cohn (Eds.), Diversity across the curriculum: A guide for faculty in higher education (pp. 18-22). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ginsberg, M. B., & Wlodkowski, R.J. (2009). Diversity & motivation: Culturally responsive teaching in college (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gurin, P., Dey, E. L., Hurtado, S., & Guring, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-366.

Gurung, Regan A.R. (2009). Got culture? Incorporating culture into the curriculum. In Regan A.R Gurung and Loreto R. Prieto (Eds.), Getting culture: Incorporating diversity across the curriculum (pp. 11-22). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Rose, D. H. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 135-151.

Salazar, Maria D., Norton, Amanda S., & Tuitt, Franklin A. (2009). Weaving promising practices for inclusive excellence into the higher education classroom. In Linda B. Nilson and Judith E. Miller (Eds.), To improve the academy (pp. 208-226). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.