To support students in realizing their power to reduce racial/ethnic prejudice both within and beyond college campuses by promoting a deeper understanding of race issues central to US society.
Deconstructing Diversity Initiative (DDI) was founded in 2015 with seed money from the UC Irvine Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture & Inclusion to address concerns about the campus racial climate. DDI was inspired by the Olive Tree Initiative's experiential learning model. A cohort of students are chosen each year to take part in an intensive DDI seminar series and then travel to sites of historical and contemporary importance to the experience of race in America. By pairing classroom learning with travel experience across the States, DDI provides college students as well as community and campus participants the education, training and experiences that enable them to better understand, negotiate and resolve racial and ethnic tension.
- Prepare students to engage in a diverse environment by providing opportunity for meaningful intergroup interactions.
- Enhance the knowledge of identity formation, structural inequalities, historical context, and current debates through meetings with research experts.
- Participate in travel to strengthen students' skills at navigating important – and often controversial – topics with sensitivity to the diverse narratives that underlie issues of race in America. Students will learn how to incorporate such sensitivity into their own interactions both on campus and in the broader community.
- Develop leadership by equipping students to be agents of change within their campus community.
- Promote improved race relations by raising student awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion through rigorous academic preparation, intergroup dialogue, experiential education and leadership development.
- Facilitate introspection to better understand and articulate one’s own world view and that of others.
WHAT WE DO
Upon being accepted to the program, DDI students attend seminars presented by UCI faculty, staff and community leaders to explore critical issues that are impacted by race and race relations in America, such as race and education; the Asian American achievement paradox; allyship and the politics of solidarity; anti-blackness and the queer rights movement; art and racial resilience; and diversity initiatives.
After the seminar series, students go beyond classroom learning and partake in a staff-led trip through several states in the U.S. During this trip, participants travel to sites of historical and contemporary importance to the experience of race in America. They meet with policy makers, college students, local officials, nonprofit organizations, and local community members spanning a range of political opinions so that DDI trip participants may gain an insight into the experiences of people living there.
Students return to campus with a greater nuanced understanding of contemporary issues, they continue to hold meetings and reflections to process their experiences and they host events for the campus relaying what they have learned.
Graduates of the program are encouraged to become leaders of campus programs, such as the Student Empowerment Program, Diversity & Inclusion High School Ambassador Program, and other campus and community organizations, in order to pass on their knowledge and experiences to others.