Learning Community Conversation Guide for Session 3 - Inclusion: Going Beyond Diversity

Suggested Reading: (pg21-26), 5 (pg27-30), 10 (pg49-52), 11 (pg53-56), and 14 (pg65-70)

Start: Welcome participants back to this space

Re-Introductions: Go around the room, beginning with moderator: name, pronouns (if they’re comfortable), role on campus  

Ground Rules for Discussion: Review out loud the bolded portions of the OEI-provided Ground Rules and, if applicable, the additional rules your group agreed upon in the introductory session (and since). 

  • Speak Your Truth: Share from your own experiences
  • Seek to Understand: Actively listen, before responding 
  • Respect Others’ Experience: We may have different OR similar stories to share, and contexts to draw from. All are legitimate. 
  • Disagree Without Discord: Disagreement is expected. HOWEVER,
    • Approach unexpected ideas with curiosity, not argument. 
    • If you disagree, debate and challenge ideas. Don’t attack the speaker. 
  • Share the Air: Make room for all voices to be heard, and don’t dominate the conversation. 
  • Confidentiality: 
    • Share stories and experiences, but don’t identify individual people or provide details that would allow someone in your story to be identified. 
    • Do not share the experiences you hear in this space outside this space. 

Conflict Management: Review the conflict management procedures your group created together in your introductory session. 

Questions (about anything?)

Group Discussion: Paraphrase the italicized portion as desired.  

America has traditionally been praised as a ‘Melting Pot,’ a rich collection of people and cultures from all over the world. However, both nationally and locally, we often expect people to shed most of what makes them unique—their language, customs, or cultural identity—in order to join us, however “us” is defined. In other words, we’re not all melting together—peoples’ differences are expected to melt away. 

In this session, we explore the differences between diversity as we’ve commonly understood it, and inclusion. We’ll discuss the importance of going beyond simply inviting (or allowing) people who are not like us into our spaces, to engaging with them as they are, meeting their unique needs, and learning from their rich experiences, and, as a result, becoming enriched ourselves. 

As Vernā Myers says, “Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.” 


Choose one to discuss, or spend 10-15 min on each. Or let participants come up with topic(s) 

A) Think of a time when someone outside your ‘in-group’* joined your neighborhood/work space /social club. How easy was it for them to participate and fit in with your group, and how did they have to change to do so? How much did your group have to change for them to fully engage and connect? Who do you think had to change the most? 

Objective: “Diversity” and “Inclusion” are often used interchangeably, with the assumption that anyone who is present is therefore included. But inattention to—or marginalizing of—difference leads to the isolation and marginalizing of people. The purpose of this discussion is to recognize the importance of being mutually adaptive: that is, being willing to make the changes in yourself/your group, that you expect others to make in order to connect with you. 

B) Think of a time when you forged a bond with someone who you might have assumed you would share nothing in common with. What about them caused you to think that they were different* from you? How or why did your opinion change? 

Objective: We often over-estimate the importance of perceived differences, and end up pursuing bonds mostly with people who we think are ‘like us.’ The purpose of this discussion is to reflect on the bonds we have formed over shared experiences, and not imagined or skin-deep differences. 

C) How have your notions of “we” or “us” expanded beyond the definitions you were taught growing up? Did this expansion happen suddenly or gradually, and did you come to terms with it easily or was it a process? What changes did you or your group (family, workplace, neighborhood) have to make, in order to reflect this new notion of “we?” 

Objective: People often harken back to when ‘things were more simple,’ or when they didn’t have to deal with difference as they do now. But difference is not new, even if we acknowledge it and emphasize respect more now. The purpose of this discussion is to understand that expanding our “we” category—and looking beyond comfortable or skin-deep similarities—is an ongoing endeavor, as is our need to make changes in how we engage with one another. 

* Think about the “One Up/One Down” table on Page 3 of the Book, and the ways the categories in those cells shape who you’ve thought of as your ‘in-group.’ 

Next Sessions 

Would anyone like to volunteer to facilitate the next session, “Seeing the Humanity in Others?” Our Logistical Facilitator can email us for volunteers later, if no one wants to decide now.