Scholars and practitioners have recognized that for any institution of higher education to be viable and competitive it must situate inclusion, equity, diversity and justice at the "core of the academic mission and institutional functioning" including:
An active commitment to Inclusive Excellence will move campus conversations beyond obstacles connected to "understanding what the term means" to using Inclusive Excellence as a strategic framework for actively examining and evaluating our institution's practices and policies and setting goals with measurable outcomes.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities has provided the following definitions:
The Making Excellence Inclusive initiative is designed to help colleges and universities fully integrate their diversity and educational quality efforts and embed them into the core of academic mission and institutional functioning. Through this initiative, AAC&U re-envisions diversity and inclusion as a multi-layered process through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; institutional functioning; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.
Diversity: Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, and life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, LBGT members, sexual orientation, country of origin, and ability as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.
Inclusion: The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical) with which individuals might connect—in ways that increase one's awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.
Inclusive Excellence includes all features, ideas, processes and challenges connected to diversity or individual differences and pushes the discussion and call to action further to include making institutional change.
By 2015, it will be evident that inclusive excellence is a core value of the institution. We envision a community that goes beyond tolerance of difference to become one that is guided by the principles of equity, social justice, cultural competence and engaged citizenship. This will include: