Developing a strategy for diversity and inclusion began in 2009. Goals, strategies and tactics were drafted at that time. To continue these efforts, a Diversity Strategic Planning Team was established which developed a Strategic Diversity Framework to guide all future efforts.
University of Northwestern Statement of Unity
We acknowledge that achieving unity within diversity is a major issue in our society today. We believe that the Word of God does speak to this issue. After considerable discussion and prayer, we wish to affirm our commitment to biblical unity within the diversity that exists in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). It is our desire that every person in the Northwestern Community be accepted and valued regardless of gender, race, color, social status, ability/disability, age, ethnicity, or gifts. We believe that because Christ has reconciled us to God and to one another, we must seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-6). Wherein we fail to do this, we should humbly seek forgiveness from God and one another. We pledge to lead our community in the process of reconciliation and the restoration and maintenance of God-honoring relationships among His people. We desire to be role models who will glorify God through our demonstration of biblical unity.
Biblical Foundation for Our Diversity Work
As an institution, University of Northwestern – St. Paul is Christ-centered, Bible-based, and mission-driven. As an institution whose work is informed by a biblical worldview, the Strategic Diversity Framework is built on a strong biblical foundation. This theological foundation guides the work outlined in this Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework as we consider how we might encourage, uplift, and support our colleagues and our students in the intellectual work that is our calling, as well as our calling to reach the world for Christ.
Believing in imago Dei, that God created all people in his image (Genesis 1: 27) and they are worthy of dignity, provides impetus for our work. The human race, male and female (Genesis 1:27), is not only unified by the image of God, but has a common ancestry: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26). We have a cultural mandate to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). As humans, we were appointed to be God’s viceroys, extending his rule throughout creation. We are God’s representatives in this world, created for good works that we might walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
As a result of the Fall, sin and corruption were introduced into God’s creation (Genesis 3: 1-24). We are currently a fallen people living on a cursed earth (Romans 8:20-22). Our relationship with God, each other, and creation has been disrupted.
Redemption includes not only the forgiveness of sins but the restoration of relationships. This restoration will be completed with Christ’s return and the renewal of all things. Until then, we are to be “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21), confident that the walls of social separation have been torn down (Ephesians 2:14-16; Galatians 3:28).
In the context of Galatians chapter 3, verse 28 makes it clear that the Jews no longer enjoy a privileged position in their access to God. Neither circumcision nor the Law provide any advantage in the New Covenant. Everyone, regardless of their social status, is a prisoner of sin and in need of God’s grace through faith in Christ. And everyone who believes in Christ is adopted equally into the family of God. In spite of the variety in our social positions, we are completely equal before God. In Christ, we can truly experience unity in the midst of our diversity.
As a result of God’s redeeming work in our lives, we desire equality of opportunity and respect that results from true Christian community where unity is present in diversity and where there is mutual support as evidence of God’s presence, by His Spirit, in us. We recognize God always intended for diversity in the human race and uses it to more completely reflect His glorious image (Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 3:10; Genesis 1:27-28, 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-12; Revelation 7:9).
The relationship established in the body of Christ with interdependent parts extends also to the relationships among us. We humbly serve others and serve with others. We work to equip those in our body for “works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). We echo Paul’s words in saying, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Because of God’s compelling love, we will teach wisdom and understanding to reach all nations for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14, Proverbs 1:7, Matthew 28:19).
Value of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Knowing we are all a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) is to recognize, celebrate, and support the multiple ways that increased diversity and inclusion lead to enlarged perspectives, strengthening of understandings, opportunities to build relationships, and opportunities to prepare for service in a diverse, global society. The Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework offers recommendations for building institutional capacity and structures, and in this way to increase diversity and inclusion, and support well all members of a diverse community. Diversity and inclusion enrich us all.
Increasing diversity for diversity’s sake is not the goal of this Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework. Neither does it focus on an assimilation model in which there is pressure to conform to particular cultural standards of a dominant group (Williams, 2013, Menjares, 2017). Instead, it is in recognition of the imago Dei that we value and honor others created in the likeness of God (James 3:9). Understanding we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28) is to recognize, celebrate, and support individuals and to desire their success.
Fulfilling Our Mission and Vision
Diversity and inclusion efforts align with and are central to who we are and what we do at the University of Northwestern. While some of our diversity efforts may resemble what is taking place at other institutions of higher education, our Vision Statement clearly articulates what is at the heart of our diversity and inclusion efforts: Because of God’s compelling love, we will teach wisdom and understanding to reach all nations for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14, Proverbs 1:7, Matthew 28:19).
Diversity and inclusion efforts offer opportunities to fulfill our University of Northwestern mission, which is to provide Christ-centered higher education equipping believers to grow intellectually and spiritually, to serve effectively in their professions, and to give God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community, and world. Diversity and inclusion efforts will help us to be globally-minded, considering the perspectives students will need to serve well. The Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework highlights ways in which it is possible to equip believers to grow intellectually and spiritually through diversity and inclusion efforts, to prepare those in our community to serve effectively in their professions, and to give God-honoring leadership as a result of the diversity and inclusion work in which we engage.
Equipping and preparing are central to diversity recommendations that are a part of the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework. Equipping and preparing begin with increasing awareness of our own and others’ cultures. It also involves examining systems that support or work against diversity and inclusion efforts. An evaluation of processes and systems in light of how they support (or not) diversity and inclusion efforts precedes effective equipping and preparing work.
Promoting unity in our body is also important in the work we do. The Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Framework offers opportunities to demonstrate recognition of and value for others. Though some examples from our past may have impeded a valuing of others and worked against unity, our University of Northwestern Statement of Unity (2002, 2010) recognizes diversity within our society, emphasizes the need for unity within diversity, and provides direction for the future.
Strategic Directives to guide diversity efforts at University of Northwestern are these:
|Directive 1:||Examine systems that may be preventing full diversity, equity and inclusion while remaining consistent with UNW’s mission documents.|
|Directive 2:||Foster a campus environment that promotes a welcoming Christ-centered communitythat understands respects, encourages, and celebrates the richness of diversity, reflective of an institutional commitment to diversity.|
|Directive 3:||Increase the diversity of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and board of trusteesthrough the intentional recruitment, retention, and representation of ethnic minorities to a level that more closely reflects the diversity of the greater Twin Cities community.|
|Directive 4:||Nurture reciprocal partnerships with diverse communities, businesses, churches, civicand community organizations to support diversity, increase interaction and engagement, and ensure quality experiences for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors.|
|Directive 5:||Develop and implement a comprehensive system of Christ-centered education and cross-cultural engagement for students, faculty and staff focused on effectively fostering growth in intercultural competencies.|