Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

Our goal is to nurture and grow a culture of inclusion both locally and globally, ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in all aspects of our work.

The iSchool contributes to the University’s goal to make a significant and visible social impact:

"When the core foundations of unabashed discovery combine with transformative learning and teaching, the outcomes are no longer measured simply in degrees or in citations. They are seen in how the world is changed for the better through contact with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The university lives up to its land-grant mission in many ways, and we will better organize, enrich, and value these contributions as we reach out to our local, regional, national, and global communities."

As a result, our School will work to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in all aspects of our teaching, research, and engagement.

The culture of the iSchool and the value systems of its members place a high priority on an ethic of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Looking forward, it is extremely important to infuse this ethic throughout our culture and operations, curriculum, educational programs, research, hiring, and external engagement. This work must continue beyond the parameters of this plan.

We will strive to enable all members of our community—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—to be confident in addressing the issues and promoting the values of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. We are well aware that these values are intrinsically political and can and will be contested. We are ready to enter this debate.

Advancing our commitment to inclusivity

Reflection and ongoing conversations

As a School, we need to reflect upon and adjust our hiring of faculty and staff. We need to reflect upon and adjust our recruitment, admissions and retention efforts and their implications for graduating undergraduates, master's students, and doctoral students as well as nondegree-seeking students. We need to consider the implications for what we teach and how we teach, and the implications for the focus of our research and how we conduct research. We need ongoing conversations about the kinds of diversities that we mean when we invoke the word, including race, ethnicity, caste, shades of skin color, gender, sexuality, neurodiversity, disability, nationality, immigration status, wealth, income, politics, religion, geography, appearance, and others—and equally to recognize the critical importance of intersectional experiences of multiple diversities.

Exploration and debate

This important work calls for exploring ways to teach about these concepts: concepts that people can find confusing, challenging, or threatening. We strive to enable our alumni to, in turn, teach those with whom they work. We intend for all members of our School to be comfortable addressing current levels of societal and global divisiveness and to facilitate a culture where people are free to respectfully disagree and talk through differences of perspective and understanding. Appropriate debate and constant questioning are powerful ways to advance scholarship, administrative practices, and wider societal change.

Social change and centrality of DEIA

Recognizing that as a society we have begun to move away from simplistic binaries such as male-female and black-white, we embrace the challenges of addressing non-binary and intersectional complexities, and we strive to help others to do so as well through the use of information. This commitment has clear implications for redesigning and updating of information systems, data, and metadata. Most centrally, we consider issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) across all the things that we do. DEIA is not a single separate category sufficient unto itself, but rather something that pervades and influences all our actions—including all aspects of strategic planning.

Work-life balance

We are initiating a School-wide conversation about quantities and expectations of work. Organizations that are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees can save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce. Such an environment also helps create a more diverse workforce. We believe the iSchool should lead discussions about how managing the quantity of hours worked can yield much higher quality work across the information professions. This is an important strategic challenge that, even if only partially solved, could have enormous, widespread societal impact. Addressing this challenge calls for conscious and creative answers to numerous challenging questions about how we organize work.

Pursuing key initiatives

key technology

Moving forward, the iSchool will pursue key initiatives to:

  • Address barriers to accessible education.
  • Develop strategies for diversifying and retaining iSchool faculty and staff.
  • Evaluate, assess, and incorporate justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility principles across our curricula.
  • Explore innovative approaches to the challenges of work-life balance.