Frequently Asked Questions: What Students Should Know About the Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative

Note: The Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative will return in the Fall. Students will receive details, and this page will be updated then.

What is the Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative?

It is a multi-week program that offers students opportunities to engage in conversation and learning on topics such as the impact of bias, how to cultivate inclusion, resiliency in the face of bias and more — all topics related to inclusion and belonging. The initiative links these values to community citizenship at the University and asks us to think about our role in cultivating greater inclusion at Columbia. 

Who created the Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative?

Students, faculty and administrators from across Columbia developed the initiative with leaders from the Office of University Life. 

Why was the Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative created?

We created this initiative to explore issues that affect learning and daily life on campus. You can apply all the skills that you develop during your participation in the initiative in settings beyond our campus, including to respond effectively to many of the critical issues of our time.

Read about the goals of the initiative.

Can I participate in the initiative?

Yes, all students are welcome to participate. If you belong to the three pilot schools (School of Nursing, School of General Studies and School of International and Public Affairs), you will automatically be enrolled. If you attend other schools but want to participate, please fill out this form to be added to the pilot.

What are my options for completing the requirement?

You need to complete only one option to fulfill your requirement, and you can choose the options and topics that appeal to you most. If you want to do more, great! Complete as many options as you wish.

Learn more about all the options.  

My school requires me to participate. How will I know if I've successfully fulfilled the requirement?

If you opt to watch one of the video collections, you'll be asked to answer five questions at the end of the collection. If you complete three of those five questions correctly, you'll see a message indicating that you have successfully completed the requirement. Otherwise, you'll be prompted to answer the questions again. 

If you choose the online tutorial, your attendance will fulfill the requirement and you'll be marked complete within one business day.

How is this different from the inclusion and belonging material presented during the Welcome to Columbia pre-orientation tutorial and the orientation?  

The pre-orientation tutorial introduces policies, values and resources at the University. This initiative asks us to more deeply reflect on the values of inclusion, belonging and community citizenship and to consider how they impact daily encounters across the University.

I need an accommodation from Disability Services. What should I do?

Disability Services can provide accommodations for registered students to fulfill participation requirements. If you need disability accommodations, please send your request to disability@columbia.edu. Please allow at least five days to arrange for sign language interpreters or CART services.

I really enjoyed participating in this initiative and would like to get more involved. How can I promote greater inclusion and belonging in the Columbia community? 

The Office of University Life offers several ways for you to get involved on campus and promote greater inclusion and belonging. For example, you could join the Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging at Columbia, become a Campus Conversations facilitator or join the Events Council.

In addition, your school may have a diversity committee or student organization focused on these issues that you can join. Ask your Dean of Students for more information. You could also start an organization within your school or through the Interschool Governing Board, or host events and conversations about what inclusion and belonging mean and how we can help promote those values.

I found some of the material covered in the initiative difficult to process. Is that normal?

Yes. Perhaps you even disagreed with some of what was presented. That’s perfectly fine, too. The point isn’t that we all agree, but rather that we consider the points of view and experiences of those who are different from us; that we learn how to listen; that we take the time to think about issues like diversity, equity, inclusion and others; and, that we think about what kind of community we want to be a part of, and then engage in robust conversations with others about those ideas. 

If you haven’t already begun to think about your perspective on these issues, it's a good idea to begin. This initiative is meant to help you start  or continue  that journey.

How can I incorporate what I've learned to create a more inclusive environment in my everyday life?

It’s great that you’re asking this question. We hope that the insights you gained through your participation stay with you well beyond your time at Columbia. After your participation, you can apply these concepts to inclusion and belonging issues by:

  • Actively seeking out opportunities to learn more (read books and articles and attend events)
  • Having conversations with your peers, family members and other community members
  • Getting involved in community efforts
  • Becoming an active listener
  • Building a supportive network 

Why are inclusion and belonging community values?

It's a misconception that inclusion and belonging are matters that should not be the concern of a community. While each of us has our own perspective on these values, people are often more — or less — effective in any environment depending on whether they feel like they belong, which is often determined by their interactions with others. Thus, these are also community values and not solely personal ones.

Another misconception about these values and the efforts to promote them across campus is that they only address the needs and concerns of people from historically marginalized communities. While the concerns of these communities are critical to any effort to promote greater inclusion, the concerns of everyone on this campus are central to this project and the skills (leadership, communication, etc.) gained through these efforts are essential for anyone’s success. 

In addition, building a more inclusive campus, with spaces where you can hear from diverse perspectives, will lead to better learning environments inside and outside of the classroom. 

Is there a way to report on-campus bias that I experience or observe?

Yes. For more information about where and how to report bias, please contact your school’s Dean of Students.

People have varying levels of understanding of, and exposure to, these ideas. Will I find something in this initiative that meets my needs? 

It is true that each of us comes to the conversation about inclusion and belonging with a unique perspective and set of experiences. Some of us are well-versed in these concepts and have even led initiatives to promote greater inclusion in our home communities or schools. For others of us, these are new, and perhaps even uncomfortable, ideas. We designed this initiative knowing that people with varying levels of fluency on these topics would participate.

For example, the initiative offers four video collections, each tailored to a different interest and experience level. Of course, direct engagement on these issues is valuable, so if you participate in an in-person event, we encourage you to dialogue with your peers across differences, including differences in knowledge and experience. This type of communication is at the heart of inclusion and belonging. 

I have other questions. How can I get more information?

Write to inclusion-belonging@columbia.edu.

 

Return to the homepage of the Inclusion, Belonging and Community Citizenship Initiative