CIC Creates Institute on Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts

9/20/2017 — Washington, DC

​The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has developed a new Institute for faculty and administrators at independent colleges and universities focused on issues of inequality, conflict, activism, and civil engagement on America’s college campuses. Directed by Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College and a prominent scholar of race and higher education, the 2018 Institute will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 3–6, 2018. A second Institute will be held in 2019. Both institutes are made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The nation’s college campuses reflect many sharp disagreements about politics, group identities, and social change. This Institute is intended to address major issues that drive unrest on campus, including protests directed at public policies, social inequities, bias, and identity 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 very different approach. The Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institute draws on the most precious resource that smaller private colleges and universities have to understand human behavior: teaching and learning in the liberal arts.

During the four-day Institute, teams of faculty members and administrators from CIC member institutions will come together with a group of highly distinguished scholars to:

  • Explore significant trends reshaping today’s campus, including demographic changes, changes in how students learn in a digital world, and new challenges to academic expertise;
  • Engage both classic and cutting-edge scholarship—in history, economics, linguistics, psychology, religion, sociology, and other disciplines—that will frame discussions of controversial topics. Participants will learn what leading scholars in other disciplines consider to be basic understandings about race, gender, and other identities; historical interpretation and authority; social justice; social and political change; the hidden effects of language and stereotyping; inclusive pedagogy; and free speech issues.
  • 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 September 5, 2017.

“CIC wants students to have a deeper understanding of diversity, to base their opinions and behavior on facts and reason, and to approach social change both strategically and with appreciation for the nuances of change,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The disciplines of the liberal arts offer the best inroads into these issues.”

Institute presenters include some of the nation’s leading scholars of diversity, history, literature, social change, and political philosophy:

  • 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, Annual Review of Psychology, and other journals 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; 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; 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 (25) campus teams will be selected for the 2018 Institute through a competitive application process. Each team will include two faculty members from the humanities or social sciences and two administrators. Each institution will be expected to develop a specific plan to apply the content of the Institute to the curriculum, advising and other student services, and co-curricular activities on its campus. A preliminary version of this plan will be required as part of the application process. A second Institute, with a separate application process, will be offered 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 pkatz@cic.nche.edu.


​The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of 767 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, as well as state-based councils and other higher education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on services to leaders of independent colleges and universities and state-based councils. CIC offers conferences, seminars, publications, and other programs and services that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, student outcomes, and institutional visibility. It conducts the largest annual conferences of college and university presidents and of chief academic officers. Founded in 1956, CIC is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.