Lynn Stein recently said something in a document we were both commenting on, and it struck me as a lovely phrasing of something I’ve been thinking about for a while – so I asked for permission to use/share it, with attribution.

The topic of discussion was diversity and inclusion (in higher ed, and specifically in engineering), and Lynn was discussing a sort of… deliberate intention one could take in terms of how to address this. (I’m sure there is a more eloquent way to say that. I don’t have it right now.)

So not: “let’s create a diversity/inclusion add-on to our existing practices” but: “we’re always making choices. As we make choices, how might we maximize the impact of the work we do in this space?”

And then a little later on, the notion of…

shift[ing] practices developed for one purpose (let’s create some interest in [Olin as] a school that doesn’t exist) to meet another [rather than just creating new practices targeted towards improving diversity/inclusion].

I grapple with “doing diversity work” in part because it’s so often framed as “the thing I do” and placed in opposition to other things I might do that are not diversity/inclusion work.

But diversity and inclusion (and ownership and belonging, to borrow from Karen Nakamura’s ASSETS keynote the other day) aren’t so much my work as they are how I do my work. Whatever I do – and I do lots of things (learning in open source communities, faculty development, engineering education ontologies, electrical/computer engineering, dancing, etc.) – I try to do them in ways that are anti-ableist, anti-racist, inclusive of many different kinds of identities and ways of being and doing… all of that.

I get it wrong a lot, I know. I get a lot of things wrong. I make a lot of mistakes. Especially these days. I feel like I mostly make mistakes these days. But I’m still here, I guess?

We’re always making choices. As we make choices about whatever it is that we are doing, how might we choose things that make the broader impacts that we want to have?