Diversity Statement

Diversity as Justice in the Department of Sustainable Development

We, the Sustainable Development faculty at Appalachian State University, recognize and embrace the moral imperative to actively combat all forms of injustice, including racism, within the university and in society. Appalachian prepares students to lead purposeful lives as engaged global citizens who understand their responsibilities in creating a just, healthy, and sustainable future for all. We cannot fulfill the university's mission, nor our ethical obligations to our students, to our university, to our disciplines, to our communities, to humanity, and to the planet, unless we make Appalachian a more equitable, just, and inclusive community. We hereby commit our knowledge, experience, time, and resources as teachers, scholars, mentors, community members, and as a department to these goals and to using the principles outlined below as a guide for departmental decision-making.

Diversity is not only a matter of inclusion; it is a matter of justice and equity. As a department, we recognize and respond to two aspects of diversity-as-justice that are especially relevant to universities. First, academic institutions need to reflect the diversity of society. Second, academic institutions should set goals, make decisions, and allocate resources based on explicitly anti-discriminatory priorities and values. Failing to respond to these priorities reinforces ongoing processes of oppression, exclusion, and marginalization and deprives university communities of the full wealth of knowledge and understanding necessary to achieve our educational and public service goals. To these ends, we commit to the following actions.

  1. We will develop and support decisions and actions regarding teaching, research, and service that seek to repair the historical legacies of structural and systemic oppression.
  2. We will ensure that our curriculum advances anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia, anti-classism, and decolonization1 by equipping all students with the knowledge, skills, and fortitude necessary to be effective advocates for justice.
  3. We will create a supportive environment by prioritizing diversity in recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students.
  4. We will listen to, engage with, and elevate the voices of historically marginalized groups in our research, outreach, and advocacy by investing in collaborations and partnerships that actively advance diversity as justice.
  5. We will encourage and contribute to leadership that promotes diversity, justice, and equity in recognition that our students need and deserve better.
  6. We will advocate within our university for more consistent, systematic, and effective centering of diversity and justice as guiding frameworks for university governance and policy-making.
  7. We will allocate departmental resources to these ends, and we will advocate that our college and university do so as well.

The movement to address social injustice, climate change, and racism (which share root causes) must be an equitable, sustained, and collaborative process. We share this statement of principles and commitments as a living document that provides a forum for transparency, communication, and accountability about how to deepen, broaden, and fully realize these goals. We welcome and encourage your feedback.


1Decolonization recognizes and works to redress the colonial legacies that contribute to structural inequities and injustices in economy, environment, knowledge, authority, and identity.