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Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an outcome.
Resources compiled by Zainab Mohamed, Tufts Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Graduate Program, '21

Introduction and Overview

Tufts has always aimed to be inclusive. The university’s Universalist founders envisioned an institution that would embrace, and offer admission to students from all cultures, religions, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In December 2013, President Monaco’s Council on Diversity released its report providing specific, actionable recommendations to achieve greater diversity among our student body, faculty, and staff to make Tufts University more inclusive and welcoming to all. In 2020 Tufts as anti-racist institution initiative was announced, in the excexutive summery document recommendations were made in five workstream areas, opportuntinties were highlighted and next steps were detailed.

Tufts demonstrated their commitment to diversity through the formation of three different but interconnected bodies, The President’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, the Joint Council on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JCEDI) and the Tufts University Cabinet of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (TUCDEI).

At the students level, many initiatives are underway at Tufts; Bridging Differences, Community Voices, Tufts Table, the Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts (BLAST), the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST), to name a few. There is firm commitment to financial aid—our goal is to build and strengthen the university’s legacy of diversity and inclusion. The identity based students centers were established in 2019 to allow more diversity in Tufts, they work collaboratively and independently to ensure that students remain authentic and engaged in DEIJ work on and off campus.

At the faculty level, Tufts have put a lot of effort into educating faculty in the DEIJ domain, e.g unpacking whiteness is a dialogue program intended for faculty and staff to examine their understanding of social construct. Tufts faculty are engaged in intercultural learning communities that fosters empathy, and cultural awareness. Faculty also participate in numerous events across Tufts and have access to a rich pool of resources and anti racist tools.

This resource website provides the tools necessary to guide the overall process of developing diversity, equity and inclusion plans in Tufts’ individual departments and schools. With support from the Chief Diversity Officers, we aspire to engage in strategic planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion across all of Tufts’ campuses and units.

The first step is to establish a common language, as it is important in sharing the understanding and concept of diversity and inclusion.  As a starting point, here are the definitions we will be using in this guide.


Diversity:  “Individual differences (e.g., personality, prior knowledge, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations).” Source: Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU)

Equity: Equity asks the following questions:

  • Who does not have access to the resources and materials within this space?
  • What conditions have we created to maintain certain groups as the perpetual majority?
  • What are people experiencing on campus that they don’t feel safe when isolated from others like themselves?

Source: Language of Appeasement, Inside Higher Ed

 Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. Source: Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) 

The Benefits of Diversity Planning

“We are at our best when we draw on the talents of all parts of our society, and our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.” President Barack Obama

The diversity of a university’s faculty, staff, and students influences its strength, productivity, and intellectual profile. Diversity of experience, age, physical ability, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, and many other attributes contribute to the richness of the environment for teaching and research. A vast and growing body of research provides evidence that a diverse student body, faculty, and staff benefits our joint missions of teaching and research by increasing creativity, innovation, and problem solving.  That said, diversity does not come without its challenges, and it is essential to minimize the challenges and derive maximum benefits from intentional planning. Long-term efforts, engagement, and substantial attention are crucial for realizing the benefits that diversity has to offer and for ensuring that all members of the academic community are respected, listened to, and valued. Some benefits of diversity planning include:

  • Builds consensus between faculty and students and creates common goals that are of specific interest to everyone in the department to work towards.
  • Reflects the commitment of the department leadership and ensures accountability.
  • Heighten the awareness of diversity and inclusion roles in the unit by adopting strategies that are inclusive and appealing to a diverse array of students, staff and faculty to improve retention and draw an even more diverse student body and professional staff. 
  • Cultivate a robust environment for cultural exchange that supports all individuals from all backgrounds.
  • Expand on and improve existing programs (academic or extracurricular) to improve access to underrepresented individuals.
  • Enrich the teaching and working experience in the department by engaging multiple voices that collaborate to deepen and expand the curriculum in the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice and improve the teaching practices.


Diversity and Inclusion Committee Formation

The first step in taking actions towards strategic planning for DE&I in your department is forming a diversity, equity and inclusion committee. A diversity, equity & inclusion committee is a group of employees/faculty working together to achieve the department DE&I goals, to oversee the planning process, and facilitate the changes/actions that need to be made. A successful committee is one that demonstrates commitment and works deliberately towards a common goal.

The DE&I committee members should be a mix of diverse individuals who are invested and engaged in the process. Members should have key roles within the department, whether its leadership or administrative, and should include both faculty and students. The recommended number of members of the committee is between 5-8, however the ideal number differs for each department depending on its size, vision, and needs.

Important considerations when forming a DE&I committee are:

  • Decide upon the committee’s mission, charge, structure,  membership, and formulate a document with clear language that articulates all different aspects of the committee’s work.
  • Ensure representation of minoritized and marginalized groups.
  • Be inclusive in the approach of forming the DE&I committee. Invite all and be clear in stating the selection criteria to ensure full transparency in the process of identifying potential members.
  • Set a realistic timeline by when your committee formulation process will be completed.
  • Announce and share with your department the reasons you are taking this step, outline weakness, and highlight areas of strength and potential gain. 

Examples of DE&I committee mission statement and resources:

Development of Diversity Planning Process 

Diversity planning is a process that outlines the direction of the departments. It defines the specific approach and methods that the department will employ to achieve its desired goal. Through this process the department’s goals are aligned to ensure that all units are serving the greater goals and vision universitywide. 

  • Gather information, conduct self-assessment, and understand the current state of DE&I in your department. Refer to this data guide for review.
  • Develop a framework for your planning, create a planning timeline, suggest formation of subcommittees.
  • Develop goals, vision, strategies, and metrics (indicators)
  • Identify and announce the guiding principles of the diversity planning process. 
  • Establish a list of key stakeholders (current and potential) to engage in the process.
  • Create mechanisms to communicate with and include all stakeholders in creation and implementation of the plan. Follow inclusive meeting guidelines.
  • Streamline reporting structure and open communication channels both internally and externally within the department. Encourage active dialogue and data sharing to ensure that all involved are informed and updated during the process.
  • Stay connected to and work with Tufts Chief Diversity Officers, and with existing structures at the University central leadership to ensure alignment and harmony with the University wide DE&I mission and goals.         


Development of the Diversity Plan

  • Conduct a SWOT analysis of diversity and inclusion practices/metrics in your department or administrative unit.
  • Develop goals, objectives, action plans, and metrics for a five-year period based on data collected from different resources within the department/university.
  • Obtain feedback on goals, objectives, action plans, and metrics (through online surveys or questionnaires, evaluations, focus group discussions, department meetings, emails and social media posting, website).
  • Involve and work in collaboration with the Chief Diversity Office for Inclusion and Equity and other leadership offices within Tufts University.
  • Put the pieces together, write a draft diversity plan document that includes introduction and overview sections, as well as an outline of the steps of the planning process. Display your data and include sources and methods, describe each goal or objective, and highlight its significance and why it is important, also mention the steps that will be taken to achieve that goal.
  • Complete the document writing process, by ensuring that all feedback from collaborators was included, review and edit, then finalize the documents by adding resources and references.
  • Share the finalized strategy documents with all stakeholders internally and externally, use various methods to announce and publish the plan documents in the department website, brochures, and flyers. Example


Implementation of the Diversity Plan

This is an ongoing process, and the steps below complete each other and can be done at the same time 

  • Fully adopt the diversity plan. Through this process you ensure broad ownership of the new plan by staff, faculty, and students.
  • Develop a communication plan that includes how and where you will be sharing your new plans, priorities, and goals with the department. That will include updated websites, newly designed printed marketing/educational materials e.g: annual reviews, manuals, brochures, and student’s handbooks, etc. Example.
  • Create a working plan, with estimated timelines for each priority area or sections.
  • Designate a point person in each area of the strategic plan, you may form an implementation committee that will oversee the overall implementation of the plan. Each point person or committee member will have a specific role to monitor their subject area and report on implementation of its activities and its progress.
  • Set annual targets, goals and benchmarks and establish work groups, if needed.
  •  Launch your plan and get it out to work.
  • Solicit feedback from students, faculty, staff, and the community at least once annually.
  • Plan for mid cycle and annual check in and reviews, including membership and focal person designation, adjust if you need to. 
  • Utilize available tools in the department to track your progress. This will vary between departments as each unit may have its own apps and tools for tracking progress and communication.
  • Share your success and lessons learnt with other relevant campus offices including the Office for Inclusion and Equity and other departments on campus.
  • Continuing to plan for resources, and make sure you have room for growth and innovation. This is work in progress, flexibility is key. Examples include but are not limited to: 
    1. Keep working in improving the plan by developing resources to engage the students, staff, and faculty. 
    2. Design training workshop, publication series, and set up consultation services if you have the resources.


  1. Tufts University School of Art and Sciences DEIJ Strategic Plan
  2. UC Berkeley Strategic Diversity Planning toolkit
  3. University of Michigan DEI tool kit.
  4. Ohio State DEI Action Plan
  5. University of Wyoming Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan.
  6. Harvard Culture Lab