Georgetown launches first-of-its-kind cultural climate survey

Georgetown University has launched a comprehensive cultural climate survey designed to gain insight into students’ perceptions of their environments on campus. Open to all students on the Main, Medical Center, and Georgetown Law campuses, the survey will explore how students engage their communities around issues of diversity, perceptions of institutional diversity, representation of marginalized groups, and experiences within the cultural climate on campus. The university also hopes to understand how well faculty deploy culturally relevant and responsive practices in the classroom.

The survey will be open through March 24 and is being administered electronically by Georgetown’s Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS) in partnership with the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA). Georgetown students also were involved in the planning, serving on a working group that reviewed the survey instrument and providing feedback to university leaders on how to promote student participation. “The administration has been working with us to ensure that the survey accurately captures the Georgetown experience,” says Daniella Sanchez (C’22), who served on the working group.

Encouraging students to ‘be heard’

The survey’s motto is “Be Heard,” in hopes that the results will “reflect the diversity and breadth of students and student experiences at Georgetown,” says Rosemary Kilkenny (L’87), vice president, diversity, equity, inclusion and chief diversity officer. “All students’ voices are most welcomed because of their contribution to the campus climate and environment.”

The university plans to release survey results in fall 2020 and will use the data to help inform how Georgetown can enhance or build meaningful programs and support systems to ensure an inclusive education. “The goal of the survey is to help the university identify areas where we are doing well, as well as areas of concern,” says Kilkenny.

A window into first-gen students’ sense of belonging

Those aspirations are also clear in new research from The Hub for Equity and Innovation in Higher Education offering a window into attitudes of belonging among first-generation undergraduate students at Georgetown University.

Recognizing that not all students experience Georgetown in the same way, researchers from The Hub explored the various academic, financial, social, and structural factors that enhance or compromise students’ experiences. They identified five key findings and corresponding opportunities for action—insights that will help shape the university’s ongoing work in the equity space.

“To genuinely take a whole-institution approach to student equity and inclusion on campus, we need to recognize where we are supporting belonging in isolated places in the fabric of the university—and ask ourselves how we can reweave the fabric of the institution to build a stronger, more inclusive campus overall,” says Heidi Elmendorf, Ph.D., study co-author, director of The Hub, and senior advisor for equity in education to Georgetown President John J. DeGioia.

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