The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is setting up a virtual space to talk candidly about inclusive excellence being a part of everyday interactions.
NCLUDE — Nebraska Community of Learners Understanding Diversity through Education — will officially launch with a Zoom session at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 20. Registration for the group is now open on the NCLUDE website.
“The original concept for NCLUDE was to bring as many people as possible into the conversation surrounding diversity and inclusive excellence. Enhancing communication and education was an area of opportunity identified in UNL’s diversity audit completed by Hulualani & Associates,” said Marco Barker, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. “NCLUDE will also be instrumental in our N2025 strategic plan, addressing our goals of engagement and learning.”
“We wanted to figure out a way where people feel like their voices are heard, where they can come and talk and share their ideas and learn,” said Karen Kassebaum, assistant vice chancellor for inclusive leadership and learning. “We hope this becomes a large community where we learn about inclusive excellence and talk about how can we be better.”
Kassebaum, who will oversee the effort, said the group will discuss and promote inclusive practices in all aspects of life.
“How can we be more inclusive in all of our daily interactions?” Kassebaum said. “As I’m interacting with other people, how can I be more inclusive? As I am hiring, how can I be more inclusive? As I am presenting, how can I be more inclusive? How do I change my landscape of socialization and broaden my scope of people who I surround myself with?”
In staying with the mission of a state’s public university, this opportunity is open to all faculty, staff, students, alumni and the broader Nebraska community.
“If we’re talking about inclusion, we need to include the whole community,” Kassebaum said. “To us, as a land-grant university, the state of Nebraska and the Lincoln community play a huge role in making individuals feel like they belong and that they’re included. Spanning the state, we end up with a huge reach of knowledge and resources.”
Kassebaum said the first session will be an introduction to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a sharing of mission and goals for the group, and then participants will take the lead.
“We want it to be organic, where individuals who join the conversation help shape it,” Kassebaum said. “We’re providing the space for conversations and the sharing of ideas around inclusive excellence practices, but we’re going to talk about topics that people want to talk about.”
Aside from virtual conversation sessions, NCLUDE will also incorporate a book club piece, and can be expanded further to include more Zoom sessions or workshops, if participants want to do so. Participants will also be encouraged to join the conversation on social media, using #NCLUDE. The NCLUDE website will be continuously updated with information and resources shared by group members.
The inaugural year of NCLUDE will end on a celebratory note with a campus social in April, if possible.