The Culture of Respect Committee’s mission is to examine, research and offer recommendations designed to elicit important positive change at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Specifically, the committee will offer recommendations designed to cultivate a culture of respect within five focus areas that include 1) safety and wellness, 2) campus facilities, 3) history and heritage, 4) dialogue across differences and 5) the curriculum review.

With representatives from the faculty, staff, students, parents, the board of trustee, alumni and alumnae council, the committee will gather for a period of one academic year. Using an appreciative inquiry framework, the committee will synthesize and prioritize existing recommendations and develop it’s own recommendations. In conjunction with senior staff, the committee will create a process for implementing each recommendation, assign responsibility for short-term goals and develop a forward-thinking blueprint for long-term goals.

Model: Appreciative Inquiry

The traditional approach to cultural change is to look for the problem, do a diagnosis and find a solution. The primary focus becomes what is wrong or broken; since we are looking for problems, we find them. By paying attention to problems, singularly, we emphasize and amplify them. While accountable for deficiencies, appreciative inquiry requires that we look for what works in a community. The tangible result of the inquiry process is a series of statements that describe where the community wants to be based on the high moments of where it has been. Because the statements are grounded in real experiences, traditions, behaviors, routines and history, people know how to repeat their success. Appreciative inquiry is the art of asking positively-narrated questions that are designed to draw out strengths, talents, resources and achievements. As an asset-based model, appreciative inquiry engages strengths to counter challenges and weaknesses.

  1. DISCOVERY (i.e. What are our strengths? What makes us great? What makes us unique?)
  2. DETERMINE (i.e. What does it look like when we have realized our best? What is our best?)
  3. DESIGN (i.e. How will we get there? What are our short-term and long-term goals?)
  4. DELIVER (i.e. How will we know we have met our goals? What is our timeline for success?)

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