University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Executive Summary

Inclusive Universities: Linking Diversity, Equity and Excellence for the 21st Century

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Pune will collaborate on research, capacity building and policy reform to enhance diversity and excellence, the twin pillars of an inclusive university. As higher education becomes more diverse in India, United States and globally, there is an urgent need to demonstrate the importance of social diversity for academic advancement and intellectual enrichment of university life. In India, new demographic trends are evident with many more women, Dalit and Backward Caste students and students from vernacular language backgrounds accessing public higher education.

In the US, a similar demographic shift is underway with increasing numbers of first generation students and students from low income, immigrant and minority racial/ethnic groups in colleges and universities. This project will develop appropriate research and analytical tools, build institutional and programmatic capacity and generate policy directions for a genuine synergy between our shared commitments to equity and excellence in higher education. The project will have two parts: 1) develop a representative profile of new, emerging and vulnerable student populations in higher education, and engage in campus climate research and needs assessment to understand the challenges and opportunities of a diverse student body; 2) pilot innovative programmatic and institutional initiatives to strengthen student achievement and success and create a supportive and intellectually enabling campus climate.

The aim of the project is to dispel the presumed opposition between equity and excellence in higher education and make a compelling case for how diversity and excellence reinforce one another and are essential to innovation and progress in multicultural democratic societies.

Sangeeta Kamat, PhD
Associate Professor
International Education & Education Policy Studies
Department of Education Policy Research and Administration
UMASS Amherst, MA 01003