New Institute on ‘Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts’ Accepting Applications

Diversity Institute logoThe nation’s college campuses reflect many sharp disagreements about politics, inequities, group identities, and social change. To help campuses address these issues, CIC will offer a Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute in 2018 for faculty and administrators at CIC member institutions. The Institute will focus on issues of inequality, conflict, activism, and civil engagement on America’s college campuses. Directed by Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA) and a prominent scholar of race and higher education, and generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the first Institute will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 3–6, 2018. Another Institute will take place in 2019.

The Institute is intended to address major issues that drive unrest on campus, including protests that sometimes become disruptive or even violent. While many institutions have responded to unrest with new institutional policies or an emphasis on calming students’ emotional responses, this Institute offers a different approach. It draws on the most precious resource that smaller private colleges and universities have to understand human behavior: teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

“CIC wants students to gain a deeper understanding of diversity, to base their opinions and behavior on what is known from the best research, and to approach social change better informed by facts and a knowledge of effective strategies,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “We hope to move students from merely emotional responses to a deeper understanding of complex issues. That is what the liberal arts do best.”

During the Institute, teams of faculty members and administrators will come together with a group of highly distinguished scholars to:

  • Explore the significant trends that are reshaping today’s campus, including demographic changes, changes in how students learn, and new challenges to academic expertise;
  • Engage both classic and cutting-edge scholarship—in history, economics, linguistics, politics, psychology, religion, sociology, and other disciplines—that can inform discussions of controversial topics; and
  • Develop realistic plans to enable their institutions to strengthen diversity and civility on campus, both inside and outside the classroom.

“Diversity and civility are important on every campus. But college students don’t always know how to talk about issues that are painful or may make them angry—and sometimes both students and instructors need to know more about the context and history of potentially controversial and emotional topics,” explained Tatum. “This Institute will focus on applying recent scholarship and enduring concepts to current student concerns, empowering participants to design effective knowledge-based campus interventions.” Tatum is the author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations about Race. The book’s 20th anniversary edition was released in September.

Institute presenters include some of the nation’s leading scholars of diversity, identity, history, higher education, and social change:

  • Danielle S. Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor, Harvard University; author of Education and Equality (2016) and Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2015);
  • David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History, Yale University; author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2013) and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001);
  • Geoffrey Cohen, James G. March Professor of Organizational Studies in Education and Business, Stanford University; author of numerous articles in Developmental Psychology and Annual Review of Psychology on stereotyping, social identity, and student achievement;
  • Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Founding Director of the Futures Initiative, CUNY Graduate Center; author of The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux (2017);
  • Nathan D. Grawe, Ada M. Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Social Sciences, Carleton College; author of Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education (2018);
  • Allan Metcalf, professor of English, MacMurray College (IL); executive secretary of the American Dialect Society; author of From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations (2015);
  • Eboo Patel, founder and president, Interfaith Youth Core; author of Interfaith Leadership: A Primer (2016) and Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America (2012);
  • Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L. Weller Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (2013);
  • Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, president emerita, Kalamazoo College (MI); recipient of the AACTE Gender Equity Architect Award and many other honors for her work to break down gender barriers and create more equitable campus communities; and
  • Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of history of education, University of Pennsylvania; author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (2016).
Twenty-five campus teams will be selected for the 2018 Institute through a competitive application process. Each team must include two influential faculty members in the humanities or social sciences and two administrators. Applications are due by Friday, November 17, 2017. The selected institutions will be notified in January 2018. CIC will offer a second Institute, with a separate application process, in summer 2019. View more information about the Institute and the application process or contact Philip M. Katz, CIC director of projects, at (202) 466-7230 or

headshots of Institute speakers  


Beverly Daniel Tatum, Director, Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute; Danielle S. Allen, Harvard University; David Blight, Yale University; Geoffrey Cohen, Stanford University; Cathy N. Davidson, CUNY Graduate Center; Nathan D. Grawe, Carleton College; Allan Metcalf, MacMurray College (IL); Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core; Craig Steven Wilder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, president emerita, Kalamazoo College (MI); and Jonathan Zimmerman, University of Pennsylvania.