Diversity and Identity Overview

Introduction

While on your program, you may experience an increased awareness of your specific identities and how they may impact your experience and/or the experiences of your peers. Identity dynamics can shape how you are received and perceived in the host culture. By engaging in pre-selection research into the prospective host culture and listening to the experiences of your peers and Program Manager/Study Abroad Advisor, you can be prepared for situations you may encounter throughout your global experience.
 
Please note that not every identity is listed throughout these sections. We have included our most common student identities based on program data. However, we recognize the importance of representation and encourage you to speak with your Program Manager, or a professional within Student Affairs, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your salient identity/identities while abroad or during a study away program.
 
We have listed considerations to keep in mind before, during, and after your global education experience, as well as resources to help you to navigate your identities. Since it is impossible to anticipate and prepare for what might happen, we strongly urge you to keep an open mind as you approach your host culture. 
 

Definitions

As you progress through these pages, you will encounter terms used through the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion. To ensure a common understanding of these terms, please refer to the definitions below.

Diversity—the inclusion of individuals representing one or more distinct qualities in a group or organization
Disabled—refers to a person who primarily, but not exclusively, meets the following conditions:
  • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • has a record of such an impairment
  • is regarded as having such an impairment
Ethnicity— a social construct linked to cultural expression and identification
First-generation student—refers to a student who:
  • has parents who did not complete a baccalaureate degree
  • prior to the age of 18, regularly resided with and received support from only one parent and whose supporting parent did not complete a baccalaureate degree
  • prior to the age of 18, did not regularly reside with or receive support from a biological or adoptive parent(s)
Gender—used to refer to the characteristics of women and men that are socially constructed
Heritage seeker—a student who is drawn to study abroad in a particular location and culture not because it is unfamiliar and new, but rather because it is somewhat familiar
Identity—a set of characteristics or beliefs that an individual uses to describe themselves
Intersectionality—complex cumulative way in which various social identities overlap in the experience of marginalized individuals
Race—associated with biology and linked with physical characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, etc.
Sex—used to refer to the characteristics of women and men that are biologically determined
Sexuality—experienced and expressed thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.
Transgender—umbrella term that describes a diverse group of people whose internal sense of gender is different from that which they were assigned at birth. Transgender refers to gender identity and gender expression and has nothing to do with sexual orientation.