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About The Cultural Center

Values & Glossary

This page elaborates on the Center's Mission, Vision, Values & Goals, providing explanations and examples of these values, as well as a brief, starter glossary for concepts used throughout our work.


The Cultural Center strives to act on and model the following core values in all aspects of its work: Collaboration, Equity, Intersectionality, Action and Evidence-based.

Collaboration is the bedrock of all The Cultural Center does. We seek to create intentional partnerships across campus, the Denver Metropolitan area and beyond—grounded in shared responsibility and commitment to Inclusive Excellence and diversity. Successful collaborations will mutually support and empower partners to challenge barriers and allow us all to benefit fully from everything our diversity offers.


Like the larger University of Denver, The Cultural Center is not value-neutral (taking no side on value questions). Rather, we recognize the presence of social inequalities across identities, the harm this causes everyone in our communities, and therefore the need to take positive action to seek equity.


  • The Cultural Center created a new position, the Director of College Access and Pipeline Programs (CAPP), to coordinate The Cultural Center programs, and co-founded the Consortium for CAPP, to connect area programs promoting college preparation and attendance among historically underrepresented students (including students of color, women, first generation, homeless and LGBTIQ students).

We recognize that all of us have multiple social (group) identities that influence our perceptions, beliefs and interactions with the world around us. We provide avenues for individuals and communities to understand and act intentionally from these many, simultaneous and valuable identities, roles, experiences and contexts.


  • The Cultural Center has worked with various campus and community partners to engage the overlapping populations across LGBTIQ and other communities, challenging all groups to understand and respect differences, and to consider commonalities. The & (ampersand) Series has connected LGBTIQ with faith issues (with the University Chaplain), and athletics (with Pioneer Athletics).
  • The new Sistah Network explores the unique experiences of Black women in doctoral programs, beyond more general support for doctoral students, women and African Americans as distinct, rather than overlapping, communities.
  • DU's Center for Judaic Studies and DULCCES collaborated on a film screening and filmmaker discussion ( Kadish ) for the 2012 Latino Heritage Month, with The Cultural Center, the Latino Student Alliance and other organizations and offices participating.

As change agents, we do more than think on Inclusive Excellence issues; we take informed action to achieve equitable outcomes for all. Rather than acting alone, we also empower our colleagues, students, communities, and selves in the transformational work of Inclusive Excellence at DU through thought, leadership, and practice.


  • In Spring 2012, after photos emerged of a "theme" party at which a DU sorority and fraternity dressed in stereotypical "cowboy & Indian" costumes, The Cultural Center worked with the chapters involved, the Native Student Alliance (NSA), and DU Fraternity & Sorority Life to bring together representatives, understand the intent and impact, and develop a cooperative, healing response (including collaboration on the annual DU Powwow, attending one another's meetings and social events). The connection between NSA and Lambda Chi Alpha continues, as a model for increased interaction among organizations and recognition of overlapping memberships and interests.
  • When a group of current armed services member and veteran students approached The Cultural Center with concerns about their unique challenges navigating campus procedures, The Cultural Center helped them create the Pioneer Student Veterans, and has dedicated staff time to helping coordinate development of more formal services campus-wide.

Our work draws on and contributes to bodies of research, as well as best and promising practices in various fields, including higher education, student development, human resources, intercultural communication and more. When we use these demonstrated standards to design, implement and evaluate our efforts, we are all more successful.


  • The Cultural Center coordinated the development, administration and ongoing analysis of the 2012 Campus Climate survey, so that it can inform understanding of and guide actions to improve the DU experience for all.
  • The Cultural Center has supported various research projects by DU and national faculty and graduate students, including those exploring its own programs (e.g., a comparison of our Voices of Discovery program to other campuses' diversity programs, and participating in the UCLA-based Diverse Learning Environments project [PDF]), diversity in higher education (e.g., a doctoral student exploring factors effecting Latino student success in higher education; a statewide project on transgender experience at Colorado institutions), and issues of diversity, Inclusive Excellence and social justice in general (e.g., supporting Psychology faculty's archival research at the Detroit Public Library).


For clarity and consistency, the The Cultural Center uses the following definitions as starting points for discussions around and action on the following terms used in our vision, mission, values and goals. (This reference is under development, and will remain dynamic. Missing definitions, references and further readings will be added soon.)

  • (institutional) access:
  • climate:
  • diversity: The fact of human difference and similarities. Broadly encompassing of both personal (individual) and social (group) identities and related worldviews and experiences. Its presence can be measured and increased; its impact must be acknowledged and engaged.
  • equity:
  • evidence: Demonstrated proof of an idea or impact, often identified through research or assessment. Often reduced to quantitative (numerical, statistical) data developed through empirical experimentation, we also recognize the value of other forms of documenting experience, for example qualitative, narrative, etc.
  • historically underrepresented populations: Commonly used to mean people of color (non-White), the term can encompass other identity groups not originally, consistently or well-served by US higher education, such as LGBT persons, people with disabilities, women, non-native English speakers, first generation college-goers, lower economic classes, veterans, students younger or older than the traditional 18-22 years, non-Christian religions, etc. As with other aspects of systemic inequity, the term refers to longstanding patterns of unequal access, retention and success; however, in specific contexts, other identities can be under-represented or -served.
  • Inclusive Excellence: The formal, transformational framework originally posited by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and expanded and adapted in service to DU's values and mission. See our Inclusive Excellence at DU webpage.
  • learning environment: Often considered only in terms of classroom-learning, it more broadly encompasses the opportunity for mutual learning present in every setting and interaction.
  • outcomes: The consequences of actions. Usually meaning the intended results of programs, events or other educational actions, it can include the unintended impacts as well.
  • public good:
  • retention: The measure of whether a student or employee stays with the institution once recruited, often used as the measure of institution's success around diversity and broader mission.
  • sense of belonging
  • social justice: Active work to understand and correct systemic inequities among groups in our societies. Beyond individual acts of prejudice/ discrimination and niceness/service, social justice engages larger patterns of formal and informal negative differential perceptions, treatment and impact.
  • success: In the higher education context, success goes beyond being retained by a college (as student or employee), and surviving the college experience. For students, success is degree completion, connection and contribution to the campus community and a positive experience in the process. For employees, success ongoing development in our work, and promotion/career advancement as desired.
  • transformational: Done well, Inclusive Excellence requires individuals, institutions and communities to change fundamentally for the better--undoing old habits and practices (of exclusive, settling for minimal compliance, etc), creating new and more inclusive ways, and continuing that learning constantly. It is the expect that the organization change, not just that new participants adapt to fit the institution.
  • worldview: The way in which we take in and understand the world around; beyond the physics of vision, this perception and judgment is based in our identities and experiences, and impacts our decisions and actions on whether and how to engage with those around us.

Revised as of February, 2013.