Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the Rockefeller Center - July 22, 2020

With President Hanlon’s statement and renewed focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) initiatives (https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2020/07/dartmouth-black-lives-matter-and-racial-injustice-must-end), we, at the Rockefeller Center, are reflecting on how DEI has played a role in our community, programs, and ourselves. Through the various Rockefeller Center programs, we strive to create an inclusive atmosphere in which students from diverse backgrounds come together and learn from one another and from staff and guest speakers. In the past fifteen years, we have been and will continue to be intentional about program design and cohort selection. We value diversity and inclusion and work every day to model these values to the students; our intention is to prepare them to understand what diversity mean and help them to become active contributors to the creation of inclusive and equitable atmospheres in their future workplaces. Thus, the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are distinct but certainly related, and it may be helpful to expand upon each concept further.

Diversity is all-embracing, involving and welcoming all of Dartmouth’s student, faculty and staff identities and differences (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, tribe, socio-economic status), both collectively and as individuals. All people are unique and bring something different to the table based on their experiences. Furthermore, different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can deepen the conversations and the learning in Rockefeller Center programming. Diversity is all the differences people have in areas including race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, language, ethnicity, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, background, major, etc. It is important not only to recognize those differences but also value them.

All Rockefeller Center programs proactively seek to have a balance of representing diverse backgrounds for guest speakers and participants on many dimensions that include but are not limited to: race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender, economic status, country of origin, majors and minors, career interest, house affiliation, Greek affiliation, sports affiliation, club membership, interest group. One example is how the First Year Fellows (FYF) program has made all efforts to promote diversity in their speakers and the cohort this year. FYF’s attention to demographic backgrounds for alumni speakers selected for Civic Skills Training helps ensure that fellows are exposed to a variety of perspectives and experiences. The Dartmouth Leadership and Behaviors (DLAB) program, the entry point for FYF, promotes diversity objectives by intentionally pairing facilitators and crafting diverse student cohort groups. Additionally, all programs have learning objectives that are focused on fostering respect for diversity and maximizing differences. For example, program sessions in Management Leadership Development Program (MLDP), Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP), and Rockefeller Leadership Fellows (RLF) include the discussion of intercultural and intergenerational communication and differences in their program sessions.

On the curricular side, we have no barriers to entry to our courses, apart from prerequisites for our methods courses. We continue to attract students to our public policy classes from all corners of campus as students can minor in public policy regardless of major. Our class enrollments tend to be some of the most widely interdisciplinary of any courses offered at Dartmouth. On a more philosophical level, we have adopted a view of diversity that stresses the benefits of bridging social capital as opposed to bonding social capital (https://www.chronicle.com/article/Admissions-Is-Just-Part-of-the/139637).

Equity seeks to ensure fair treatment, equality of opportunity, and fairness in access to Rockefeller programs, resources and outcomes. Equity involves making sure all people, regardless of their differences, receive the support and resources they need to be successful, to meet program objectives, to achieve goals, etc. It may also entail consideration of past patterns of discrimination and disparities.

In the Rockefeller Center programs, the placement process for programs and internships strives for impartiality. For example, in the mini-grant application process, names of students are always redacted in order to keep anonymity and judgment and or bias out of the decision-making process, and for Dartmouth Model United Nations, the delegate and participant sign up for high-school students is on a first-come, first-serve basis. The programs, including retreats and weekend trip events for programs like MLDP, RGLP, and RLF, do not impose financial costs on students, allowing all to participate regardless of their economic situation. Funding for internships are directed toward those whose financial needs are greatest and who, without funding would not be able to participate. The programs also ensure physical and virtual access by taking in consideration of place, date, and time when scheduling and by developing asynchronous programs.

In our curricular offerings, the same assurances are in place. Our PBPL 85 seminar, for example, provides financial support for students based on their need, thereby removing any barrier to participation. The FYF program has its genesis in our PBPL 5 introductory class. From the outset of the class, it is made clear that all students in the class are eligible to apply for the summer program and that no student is disqualified due to financial need or any other barrier to participation. The selection process has always involved evaluations from both male and female Rocky staff members in each cycle.

Inclusion builds a culture of feeling students participating in our programs belong at Rocky by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all students and paying attention to those who are not. It also includes those behaviors that create “a space at the table” and make faculty, students and staff feel that Rocky is their “home.” As a result, they feel connected, and feel welcome. Inclusion is how Rocky makes all people feel included, welcome, and worthy regardless of their differences. An environment that is inclusive of all demonstrates that diversity is valued.

The Rockefeller programs include sessions that focus on unconscious bias, inclusive decision making, and cultural identity as well as structured activities and discussions that make students feel comfortable with difficult topics. The programs and internships also emphasize self-awareness and review and respect and dignity for others in its students, faculty, staff, and facilitators to avoid unconscious barriers or biases. Specifically, in D-LAB/FYF, facilitators use “Speak Up!” training by the OPAL office to empower them to promote bystander intervention strategies. Students, faculty, and staff input are sought after in order to make inclusive choices regarding facilitators and speakers for programs like the Center’s public programs.

Our curricular offerings are disproportionately focused on team-based projects. As such, students are engaged in supporting and critiquing each other in a constructive manner. They are learning to collaborate on a single work product with multiple authors. We believe that our teaching and learning model best prepares students for productive and inclusive careers beyond Dartmouth. 

Overall, then, DEI is the practice of integrating the three concepts (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) in the Center’s programming. Dartmouth College maintains offices devoted to promoting these principles, such as the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (link: http://www.dartmouth.edu/ide/). The Rockefeller Center draws upon these and other college-wide initiatives, but there are also specific examples of how DEI-related practices are incorporated into Rockefeller Center programing noted below and they will be updated periodically as programs innovate.


These articles, books, papers, and websites informed our statement on DEI and are included as additional resources.

Allies, B. (2020, June 19). “Kinds of Allies Literally Anyone Can Be at Work.” Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/what-is-an-ally-7-examples

Bartlett, K. (2009). Making Good on Good Intentions: The Critical Role of Motivation in Reducing Implicit Workplace Discrimination. Virginia Law Review, 95(8), 1893-1972. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/27759975

Dugan, J. P. (2017). Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives. Jossey-Bass.

Guthrie, K. L., & Chunoo, V. S. (2018). Changing the Narrative: Socially Just Leadership Education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Haber-Curran, P., & Tillapaugh, D. (2017). Gender and Student Leadership: A Critical Examination. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2017(154), 11-22. doi:10.1002/yd.20236

Shaiko, R. G. (2013). "Admissions Is Just Part of the Diversity Puzzle." The Chronicle of Higher Education. June 9, 2013. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Admissions-Is-Just-Part-of-the/139637.

Woodstock, T. (2020, June 16). “4 Ways To Make Your Workplace Equitable For Trans People.” Retrieved July 20, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/2020/06/02/867780063/4-ways-to-make-your-workplace-equitable-for-trans-people

20X Challenge - Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2020, from https://sites.google.com/dartmouth.edu/20x-challenge/resources