Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Include a statement in your syllabus acknowledging difficult content

Including a diversity statement on your syllabus can signal to your students your commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive climate for all students (see a review of research and strategies on teaching inclusively). Because a diversity statement is specific to your teaching and course, we encourage you to write your own.

When creating a diversity statement for your syllabus, please consider the following questions:

  • How do you, concretely, recognize and value diversity in your classroom? (For instance, do you have systems in place to ensure everyone's voice will be heard? Do you use a variety of examples to illustrate concepts? Do you have guidelines for respectful discussions?)

  • How can diversity – as represented in your discipline, course content, and classroom – be an asset for learning?

  • How will issues related to diversity arise in your course and classroom? And, how will you handle them (ideally) when they do? (For instance, does your discipline or course content explicitly or implicitly raise sensitive or controversial topics related to diversity and inclusion? How might students from different social and cultural backgrounds respond to disciplinary norms?)

  • Do you seek input from your students on classroom climate (i.e., to what extent they they feel included and how)?

  • What relevant resources exist on campus that could be useful to your students (e.g., Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Intercultural Communication Center, Office of Title IX Initiatives)?

A few suggestions to consider about your diversity statement:

  • Although we provide samples below, they are intended to be illustrative of one or more of the principles above, rather than to function as “boilerplate” language.

  • Your statement should articulate to your students why being inclusive matters to you, specifically, and how that relates to your discipline, course, and desired classroom climate.

  • It can be helpful to consider your discipline's history with underrepresented groups, and how disciplinary conventions might work to facilitate or become obstacles to inclusion.

  • After drafting your statement, check whether the rest of your syllabus and course design matches your diversity statement in tone and spirit, that is to say, is also positive and inclusive (see additional resources on creating an inclusive learning environment):

  • Be inclusive by recognizing different types of diversity in your statement.

Visit our Syllabus page for Diversity Statement samples

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