Syllabus Statements: Inclusion and Classroom Climate
Syllabus statements are an important way for faculty to accomplish a number of useful goals at the outset of each course: Reduce the number of predictable questions from students, help establish students' expectations about the course at the outset, reduce students’ uncertainty (and increase their comfort level) about you and the course, generate more positive perceptions about who you are and how you will conduct the class, and convey your commitment to supporting them as individuals. These pages offer information about several categories of recommended syllabus statements, each offering examples and downloads of language that can be copied or revised for individual faculty use in course syllabi.
Inclusion and Classroom Climate Syllabus Statements
Developing a statement for your syllabus is an effective way to clarify, concretize, and share your values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in your discipline and in your classroom. A syllabus statement should communicate the commitments you will make related to equity and inclusion, for example: the commitments you expect your students to make, how you will collect feedback on inclusion (if you will), and the ways you will respond to oppressive comments or actions in your classroom.
Syllabus statements on inclusion can signal to students how the instructor commits to support a culture of inclusion and to conduct the course in inclusive ways. Instructors can highlight their commitments not only at the outset or a course (e.g., the Day 1 syllabus review) but at one or more instances throughout the academic term. Including a statement on how the instructor commits to interrupt racism and other forms of oppression will be useful to return to if such incidents occur in the classroom. Restating personal and professional support for inclusion and diversity would also be timely whenever incidents in class, on campus, or elsewhere might undermine students' sense of inclusion and belonging at Cal Poly.
NOTE: For guidance on composing an original syllabus statement, see the CTLT web page Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in Classrooms.
Syllabus Statements Language Models
I strive to make this classroom a place where you will be treated with respect, and I welcome individuals of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, races, ethnicities, social classes, genders, gender identities, gender expressions, national origins, documentation statuses, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, abilities – and other visible and nonvisible differences. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful and inclusive environment for every other member of the class. This does not mean we cannot disagree or have different ideas. It does mean we try to consider perspectives other than our own, though they may differ from our own beliefs/experiences. If you experience disrespect or discrimination in this class, please report your experiences to me. (Sample language adapted from Cal Poly CLA)
Additionally, it is important to know that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in racist and xenophobic actions and sentiments worldwide and locally that are anti-Asian, anti-Asian American, and anti-Chinese. Racist, xenophobic, and other oppressive comments are harmful, regardless of intent. In this course, I ask all students to be mindful of their comments and to be aware that although they may not intend to hurt others, some comments have a harmful impact.
[Note for faculty: To learn more about writing your own diversity, equity, and inclusion statement for your syllabus visit CTLT’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Syllabus Statements]