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Key Diversity Terms

As Biola seeks to live out the biblical mandate of unity amidst diversity, we recognize the need to have common language for our context. Our approach to the language of diversity is designed to reflect both our biblical mandate and our mission to "equip men and women in mind and character" in accordance with Scripture. As we all come from different perspectives and bring different assumptions to diversity rhetoric, our desire is to provide clarity through these Key Diversity Terms, so that as a community we are able to move toward common understanding. These terms were drafted by the D&I Team, vetted by faculty and staff representatives from across the university, and approved by the Provost.

  • AANAPISI is a Federal Department of Education designation for Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. Qualifying institutions are those that are federally-eligible institutions of higher education which have an enrollment of undergraduate students that is at least 10 percent Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander. This designation would affirm Biola’s ongoing aspiration to reflect the breadth and diversity that is within the Kingdom of God.

  • Campus Climate refers to the perceptions and experiences of an institution’s students, faculty, staff and administration of the campus environment. It includes the level of respect for student and employee needs, abilities, and potential as well as the quality of interactions between individuals and groups. Research shows that inclusive and equitable environments have a positive impact on student learning and contribute to positive career attitudes. An inclusive and equitable campus climate allows for all people to flourish as a part of the community.

  • Culture: A shared set of basic assumptions including beliefs, values, rules of behavior, memories and self-concepts that create collective meaning. Culture is socially learned both consciously and subconsciously, and passed from generation to generation. Culture is multifaceted, ever-changing and often includes subcultures.

  • Cultural Humility: As Christians, we strive to follow the call of Scripture to clothe ourselves in humility (Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). This includes acknowledging that our cultural lenses color how we see and experience the world in ways that can be limiting. Cultural humility also involves an open interpersonal posture that seeks to understand others’ cultural backgrounds.

  • Cultural Values: Core principles and ideals that determine standards for what is acceptable, important, normal, desirable, etc., within a group (i.e. direct and indirect communication). Cultural values differ from moral absolutes offered in scripture. They are at the core of observable cultural expressions and practices. As we strive to develop our cultural humility, it is critical to learn how cultural values shape our perspectives in order to more deeply understand ourselves and others.

  • Diversity: The variation of physical, social, psychological and spiritual characteristics of human beings that influence our experience in the world. Includes but is not limited to ethnicity, cultural values, race, socioeconomic status, sex, visible and invisible (dis)abilities, religion, denomination, age, language, learning styles and so on. Biola affirms that God’s creation of a diverse world and humanity is good.

  • Ethnicity refers to a shared cultural heritage. This often includes shared cultural practices, ancestry, sense of history, religion, language, traditions and values. Whereas race is determined by how others perceive us, usually on the basis of physical traits, ethnicity is largely determined by how we perceive ourselves.

  • Equity: As an educational institution, we recognize the historical reality of exclusionary practices in higher education and believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to flourish. Equity focuses on ensuring that each person receives what they need in order to fulfill their God-given purpose to build up the body of Christ which glorifies God.

  • Hispanic/Latina/o: While the Institutional Diversity Strategic Plan uses the terms Hispanic and Latina/o, Biola acknowledges the complexities of using any single term to categorize such an ethnically, culturally, linguistically and geographically diverse group of people. Hispanic refers to someone with roots from a Spanish-speaking country. Latina/o, alternatively, refers to someone with roots from any country in North, Central or South America, Spanish-speaking or otherwise.

  • HSI is a Federal Department of Education designation for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Qualifying institutions are those that are federally-eligible institutions of higher education which have an enrollment of undergraduate students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. This designation would affirm Biola’s ongoing aspiration to reflect the breadth and diversity that is within the Kingdom of God.

  • Inclusion: The active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity in curricular, co-curricular and administrative functions. Engagement with diversity increases awareness and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact with one another and within institutional systems. The result is a community that actively demonstrates an institutional culture that recognizes and embraces the value and contributions of all its members. At Biola, we believe that the concept of inclusion parallels with the New Testament concept of koinonia. Koinonia describes a state in which all believers are free to fully participate in and contribute to the community of believers in their own unique ways (cf. Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37).

  • Inclusive Excellence: Inclusive excellence involves embedding inclusion comprehensively and cohesively at all levels of the institution instead of promoting isolated diversity initiatives. By encouraging collaborative engagement of diversity and inclusion in policies, procedures, and practice, inclusive excellence furthers the university’s mission of educational excellence. To pursue inclusive excellence means we examine and change those institutional practices that undermine full koinonia within the Biola community (cf. Acts 6:1-6).

  • At Biola an Inclusive Hiring Process means we seek to attract and hire the most qualified candidates by recognizing and embracing the full potential of every candidate’s experiences and talents as well as the contributions they can make to our workplace. It does not mean we give people from specific backgrounds an unjust advantage to reach a quota. Instead, we seek to reduce unintentional barriers in our process that hinder some candidates from succeeding and keep us from fully appreciating candidates’ strengths. Inclusive hiring also helps us to build teams of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and experiences. Research shows that diverse teams can be more creative and innovative, make better decisions and solve problems more quickly than homogeneous teams. Intentional inclusive hiring means we clearly define and communicate position requirements and search criteria, invite multiple perspectives in our decision making, and actively address unconscious bias in our practices and in ourselves throughout our process. Ultimately, inclusive hiring helps us treat all candidates with equity and hospitality throughout the search process — from recruitment, to application reviews, to interviews, to selection — in order to hire the best and most qualified candidates.

  • Intercultural The terms “multicultural,” “cross-cultural” and “intercultural” are often used interchangeably, but we acknowledge that they have different significance for different academic fields. For simplicity and consistency, Biola has chosen to use and strive for the term “intercultural,” here defined as the state where interaction between cultures produces personal and collective transformation, differences are valued and respected, and equity is pursued for all.

  • Intercultural Competency is “a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts.” Intercultural competence and cultural humility are complementary concepts, with the former focusing primarily on the development of various skills and abilities, and the latter focusing primarily on attitudes and dispositions towards others while practicing those skills.

  • Nationality has to do with our citizenship(s) in particular political territories. It is the passport(s) we hold. There may be multiple ethnic groups within one nation (i.e. the United States), and conversely one ethnic group may be present in multiple different nations (i.e. Chinese Americans, Chinese Canadians, etc.).

  • Race is a social category that groups people based on phenotypes which hold significance in certain contexts (such as skin color or hair texture). Racial categories are not based on biology; they are socially constructed and are determined by how others perceive us. For example, a person might be of Dutch and Nicaraguan descent but is often asked if they are Middle Eastern. The meaning a society attributes to certain racial categories influences our beliefs about human differences and attitudes towards ourselves and others. These beliefs and attitudes can lead to stereotyping all Asians as smart or all Black men as thugs.

  • Shalom: Shalom is the process and product of exercising and enjoying right relationships with God, oneself, other people, and the rest of God’s creation. It is by its very nature both individual and communal, concerned with the well-being of both the individual and the community as a whole. Shalom is wholeness, harmony and well-being — “the way God designed the universe to be.” Unfortunately, sin has marred shalom in all of its aspects, resulting in disruption and difficulty in all of our relationships (Genesis 3-11). However, God has made a way to restore shalom through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; cf. Ephesians 2:13-22), allowing us to experience a measure of shalom now, even as we wait for God to implement His kingdom in its fullness. A way that the church demonstrates shalom is through the New Testament concept of koinonia, or inclusion.

  • Unity: Unity is a word that describes when individuals from different groups are joined together in common purpose. Unity is not uniformity, where everyone thinks or acts the same. To be united means we are able to recognize our differences. To be united also means we reject the idea that those differences must create division. Instead, Biblical unity encourages diverse believers to work together, as one body, under the lordship of Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:1-16). In a Christian community, the Spirit empowers us to value our differences and respect one another, even when we disagree. When we experience disagreement, in love we move towards one another, committing to speaking with and understanding one another.