When trying to create a welcoming, inclusive classroom, instructors may want to include a diversity statement and a land acknowledgment statement on their syllabi. We provide examples of each here for your benefit. Instructors may also want to read more about universal design and accessible syllabi, and also about diversifying their reading lists.
Insofar as they are both invitations to learn more and calls to action, such statements should be meaningfully aligned with the syllabus and class activities; otherwise, they could come across as merely performative gestures. With regard to land acknowledgements in particular, it might be helpful to ask oneself why one wishes to include the acknowledgement, and whether and how it is related to a larger practice of disrupting ongoing settler colonial violence. A land acknowledgement comes with a responsibility for instructors to have a clear sense of how they are personally positioned (most often as settlers) in relation to the territory and to inform themselves about its specific history.
Example Land Acknowledgment Statements
Also see this video land acknowledgment by Annawon Weeden (2021 MATSOL Virtual Conference) and additional resources.
Example Diversity Statement
Our class provides a safe space for free inquiry and open exchange of ideas. Difficult social issues will be confronted, and controversial ideas will be exchanged. We recognize the power and promise of language and yet are cognizant that language might be used to exclude or hurt rather than express or inform. Therefore, though we might feel strongly about a topic, we maintain respect for each other’s diversity. We act and communicate respectfully toward one another, both directly and indirectly, both inside and outside the classroom.
We value curious, open-minded inquiry, and we critically engage with ideas in diverse texts to learn about perspectives diverging from our own; this enhances our existing understandings and enriches our lives. Writing to communicate necessitates an inclusive relationship with a reader, and in this class, we are accountable for our messages and committed to caring for our reader’s understanding of these messages. While at times it is appropriate to share our beliefs and opinions, we are committed to informing those beliefs and opinions through intentional inquiry and evidence-based thinking. All members contribute to building a caring, inclusive learning environment that promotes productive participation and sharing, and engenders growth among us all. As a classroom community, we share these values.
If you ever have any concerns about the classroom climate, please reach out to me.