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A Strategy of Transformation

A fundamental principle of transformation is that change that is deep and permanent must occur at many levels simultaneously. While we believe on the distinctive mission of higher education institutions, we acknowledge and encourage the need for change within individuals, institutions and throughout society. Our Ecological Model illustrates the multiple layers of interconnectedness across individuals, institutions, systems and throughout society.

When working towards change, it is more powerful to focus at the boundaries between ecological levels. For instance, rather than focusing our efforts on how institutions operate, we prefer to situate our work in between, examining the interactions and interplay between institutions and the system. Situating our work at the boundaries has the potential to create lasting change.

Near the bottom of the model, each of the four levels shares a common border. This signifies that actions at any level impact the others. Thus, even an individual can create deep and lasting change at the societal level. In the same way, many societal trends, mediated through the other levels, impact the individual. However, it is unusual for deep and lasting change to occur simultaneously across levels. Most often, change is mediated through the embedded levels of the model. 

Themes Guiding Our Work

Our work begins at the University of Michigan and expands beyond by working with professional associations, partnering institutions and advocacy communities across the United States. By fostering key partnerships and allies across the country, we mobilize action among institutional leaders, policymakers, foundations and researchers to work together to ensure a more inclusive and diverse society. To achieve this vision we have organized around three major themes that ultimately guide how we influence the way people think, talk and act around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Grounded in Scholarship

Higher education institutions play a critical role in social transformation. Our work is grounded in scholarship that will allow us to bring awareness and understanding and develop leaders that will commit and take action towards addressing contemporary social issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. This figure illustrates the central role of higher education and examples of areas of scholarship that are reflected in our work. These areas are not exhaustive and reflect the interconnection in higher education with various topics, issues, and spaces.