About the Inclusion & Belonging Initiative

Inclusion & belonging are some of Columbia’s core community values. In this context, inclusion means people feel their full participation is welcomed and belonging means everyone is treated as an essential member of the community.

While everyone at Columbia fundamentally belongs to the community, not everyone feels that same sense of belonging during their time here. Feeling generally out of place can affect every aspect of the Columbia experience – from extracurricular activities to academic performance.

Inclusion & belonging are everyone’s responsibility and these values help to create an environment where people of all backgrounds can thrive.

 

  • To foster an inclusive campus culture that supports a sense of belonging for everyone. 
  • To deepen the understanding and appreciation of inclusion & belonging as core community values for which each of us is responsible
  • To provide students with skills and opportunities to navigate problem-solving successfully in a diverse, complex world 
  • To enhance students’ abilities to communicate across differences 

Learning how to create spaces where people feel like they belong is a lifelong process. Below are some skills that you can develop to help you do that effectively; participating in the Inclusion and Belonging initiative will help you to lay the foundation.

  • Active listening
    • Active listening is about learning, not debating. Open-ended questions, offering one’s full attention and not interrupting are key ways to engage. The point isn’t to necessarily agree, but to understand why someone thinks the way they do. This can lead to more productive conversations — where you and your conversation partner feel heard, where learning has happened and solutions are more easily identified. Listening skills are a key component of successful interpersonal communications and essential to building inclusive communities.
  • Awareness building
    • Coming into a diverse community like Columbia means meeting people with different identities, backgrounds and experiences. And like all thoughtful Columbia students, you may be curious to know about others who are different from you. You might want to watch films, read books or learn online to develop your awareness about cultures and identities that are different from yours. As you think about asking classmates about their identities, keep in mind that not everyone likes to answer difficult or sensitive questions about themselves. Finding common ground — talking about classes, interests and activities — can be a good way to build trust and friendship.
  • Interrupting exclusion
    • ​​​​​​​Have you ever been in a situation where you heard someone telling a joke or story about a group of people and their identity that may have been intended to be funny but which instead was hurtful or offensive to you or someone else in the room? Learning how to step in is an important life skill. As an active partner in promoting inclusion on campus, it is important to address moments when people may be commenting on someone's identity in an offensive way.

How to Participate: Choose one of the Options Below

Campus Conversations

Meet other students across the University, have real discussions, and build community in this student-facilitated dialogue about identity and inclusion.

School-specific Workshops

Choose from workshops at your school and participate with your classmates! Register early to guarantee your spot.

Video Collections

The video collections include several TED Talks and cover issues of Identity and Community, Bias and its Impact, and Resilience and Inclusion.

Online Tutorial

Complete an interactive 30-minute online tutorial about diversity, identities and communities.

Independent Projects

Choose a project that aligns with your interests or professional development goals. You can do it on your own or with a small group.

Why the Inclusion and Belonging Initiative Matters

Experiencing a sense of belonging helps us all realize our potential at Columbia and beyond.  

We all have the ability and responsibility to support an ethic of care and mutual respect in our shared community, especially amidst our many differences.

Learn more about this Initiative's goals. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

View the FAQ