Providing students with the education, training and experiences needed to help them realize their power to reduce racial/ethnic tension and address issues of equity in American communities.


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 and and promoting a deeper understanding of race issues central to U.S. society.

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 on their campus and within their communities.

Promote positive cross-racial interaction and increase cultural empathy by raising awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Facilitate introspection to better understand and articulate one’s own world view and that of others.


DDI is a year-long program that combines learning and dialogue with travel to help students investigate the institutional and contextual forces and power differences that are at the heart of racial/ethnic tensions and should be considered in developing and implementing strategies for improving race relations.

Upon being accepted to the program, DDI participants 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 psychological approaches to racial identity formation; structural approaches to race such as critical race theory; differential racialization; intersectionality; anti-blackness and white privilege; race and education; diversity initiatives; the Asian American achievement paradox; allyship and the politics of solidarity; anti-blackness and the queer rights movement; immigration, labor, and race; art and racial resilience.

Additionally, participants go beyond seminar-style learning to partake in staff-led trips to several cities throughout the U.S. to sites of historical and contemporary importance to race in America. They meet with community members, leaders, policy makers, and organizers spanning a range of political opinions from nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, religious organizations, and government entities to provide insight into the varied experiences and efforts of people addressing issues of race in their communities.

Students return to campus with a greater nuanced understanding of contemporary issues, and they continue to hold meetings and reflections to process their experiences, hosting events for the campus relaying what they have learned and creating change-agent projects to implement in their own communities.

The combination of seminar learning, dialogue, experiential learning, and leadership development, DDI provide students with the education, training and experiences needed to better understand, negotiate and resolve issues of race.

DDI participants are encouraged to become leaders of campus programs, and serve as mentors to high school students in the Diversity, Inclusion, and Racial Healing (DIRHA) program.


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