CFANS Diversity Plan


The purpose of this plan is to provide a set of goals and actions that enable the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) to fulfill federal, University and collegiate requirements and aspirations around diversity and inclusion. We are committed to pursuing the principle that diversity work benefits the entire University Community—faculty, staff and students. 


CFANS embraces diversity and excellence. We are committed to promoting the principles of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and multiculturalism where all individuals are valued, respected, provided the opportunity to flourish, and are unobstructed in their pursuit of excellence.

Our goal is to create workplace and classroom experiences that promote academic excellence through cultural diversity and are free of intolerance and coercive behaviors. Multiculturalism promotes an understanding that the human experience includes, but is not limited to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression..

def.: Diversity is the fact of human difference that makes a difference in how we interact with one another, communities, institutions and ourselves (relative to developing and respecting human potential, creating a supportive, nurturing climate and environment, and acknowledging legal responsibilities to historical inequities). (Adapted from One Ummmah Consulting)

Biological and cultural diversity are closely intertwined. Intellectual, educational, and cultural ‘monocultures’ invite institutional obsolescence. In an era of increasing globalization and demographic shifts, excellence in research, teaching, and outreach will be achieved by developing the multicultural competence of the college. Innovations in inquiry, curriculum, pedagogy and engagement should be undertaken through the lens of cultural pluralism. Deepening our institutional commitment to, competence with, and understanding of diversity will contribute to the international excellence, creativity and prestige of the college in all of its work.

I. The significance of a comprehensive commitment to diversity

A commitment to enhancing diversity in all facets of the organizational structure must be explicitly stated as a foundational principle underlying the formation and evolution of CFANS.

Globalization of our economy and society has created rapidly changing demographics in Minnesota and the United States. If we are to successfully prepare students to compete and thrive in increasingly diverse environments, we must recognize, embrace, and teach the value of diverse perspectives required to solve complex societal challenges. We need a broad strategy for the collegiate commitment to diversity that is effective and long lasting—we must ask ourselves how this pledge becomes manifest in our discovery, teaching and outreach.

We envision a College firmly grounded in our land grant tradition that:

  • Meets the human resource needs for globally, culturally diverse future food and natural resource systems

  • Reflects in its governance, knowledge production, educational programs and resource allocation the true cultural diversity of our society

  • Recognizes knowledge and understandings of landscape, natural resources, food and agriculture that exist within and beyond the academy

  • Is sensitive to and aware of the institutional barriers and challenges presented to people and communities of color as well as other marginalized identities.

  • Understands the inherent possibilities within cultural diversity for promoting innovation and excellence

Excellent local models and national efforts have been developed to enhance cultural diversity in natural resource and agricultural research, teaching and outreach at land grant universities and their federal agency counterparts. An inventory of best practices and policy on diversity will be established as a basis for policy formation and climate assessment within CFANS. Institutional barriers that inhibit cultural diversity must be eliminated. 

"Any large institution that fails to connect with the changing diversity of our nation—of our metro area, our state, of our neighborhood—will not succeed in today’s America or today’s Minnesota. And any institution that fails to recognize and fight the inequities in our society, our cities and our state, will not be living up to its moral and civic responsibility. We at this University do, and we will continue to." (President Kaler, 2013 Equity and Diversity Breakfast)

II. Rationale for Implementation

The long history of social inequities incurred by many as a result of race and gender has left an impact that cannot be ignored as we move forward with diversity initiatives in CFANS. Our national legacy is also the local story of the university community. Attention to that history must inform the core of our efforts as we move to increase and meaningfully incorporate diversity across areas of policy, programs, administration, budgeting, hiring, recruitment, retention and curriculum development in CFANS.

These efforts not only speak to the past, but inform the future of the College--based on projections from the State Demographer's Office, more than 20 percent of the state's high school graduates will be racial and ethnic minorities by the year 2023.* With our current undergraduate and graduate enrollment at approximately 13% CFANS has much to accomplish. We are not unique in striving to meet that challenge, but the demographic realities facing higher education require that we have the capacity to deliver educational excellence to a racially and culturally diverse community.

Knowledge and understanding are at the core of the public research university mission. Diversity in what is known, how we know and those who know serve as powerful catalysts for innovation in research, educational programs and outreach. In this way, an increased commitment to diversity ties directly to institutional quality, and a lack of diversity to institutional costs.

Embracing diversity enhances the performance of all University work. Committing to greater cross-cultural competency must be undertaken by acknowledging that diversity fosters excellence and abundance--offering all a chance for personal growth and CFANS an occasion to pursue increased innovation. A multicultural environment encourages innovation and fosters creativity. Studies make it clear that students who develop in the context of a diverse, multicultural, educational community benefit significantly and are more successful in the workplace.

As we move to implement greater multiculturalism across CFANS, we must be cognizant of the body of literature and best practices that have emerged in the past several years. The work must be informed by theory--as reflected in the literature of Milton Bennet, James A. Banks, and many others.

The process we propose (and ensuing plan) ensures that our diversity initiatives align with the all-University Strategic Positioning work underway. They also align with the NASULGC initiative, “Sustaining Diversity and Creating Beneficial Social Change,” as well as other national initiatives addressing multiculturalism and diversity in higher education and research. Our efforts will draw significantly upon the work and leadership of the University of Minnesota Extension Service as it has ably articulated policies and goals for implementing an effective multicultural agenda.


III. Major themes of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences diversity agenda

We have grouped our recommendations for crafting a fully multicultural institutional environment into five main themes: Innovation (knowledge construction), Curricular and Pedagogical Transformation, Engagement (outreach) Access and Accountability (workforce and student recruitment and retention) and Academic/Social Culture Issues (climate and environment). These broad areas of engagement comprise a systemic approach to implementing a comprehensive and transformative diversity plan.

These recommendations do not comprise an exhaustive list. Instead they represent a necessary set of key components that the College must seriously consider, support and implement in the near term in order to demonstrate commitment and generate capacity through concrete actions.

Innovation (knowledge construction)

Diverse perspectives and understandings can re-frame pressing societal problems, creating opportunities for innovation and new solutions. We must learn how to capture the increased potential for innovation that a diverse workplace affords. Departments should develop the capacity to advance knowledge in novel, cross-cultural contexts--developing appropriate methodologies and resources.


    • Create a small grants program for departments willing to explore diverse understandings by partnering with stakeholders and communities who bring their own knowledge of the environment and agriculture.)

    • Encourage and fund pilot projects for faculty, staff and student organizations to demonstrate research, teaching, and outreach in cross-cultural contexts.

Curricular and Pedagogical Transformation

This does not mean simply adding cross-cultural content to established classes, but building the capacity for students to shift their perspective and reason within diverse frames of reference. The curriculum must be reconceptualized by integrally incorporating ethnically diverse perspectives in the construction of courses and majors. 


    • Offer incentives to faculty willing to retool their classes to better reflect multicultural perspectives and teaching strategies (to encourage faculty to create greater diversity in their curriculum--such as demonstrated in the Honors Program colloquia offerings and freshman seminars).

    • Encourage a departmentally based review process to examine curriculum for opportunities to engage diversity and multiculturalism.

    • Host faculty workshops on developing a multicultural curriculum.

    • Pursue challenge grant opportunities to develop curriculum and majors.

    • Use the departmental compact process to encourage departments to undertake experimentation in integrating cross-cultural content in research, outreach and teaching.

    • Ensure that pedagogy effectively incorporates techniques to address diverse learning styles and the needs of all students including those with recognized access and accomodation needs.

    • Support the work of a “Committee on Diversity and Inclusion” to insure persistence, coherence and leadership in the broad work of devising strategies for inclusion. The team should be comprised of interested early adopters and dedicated practitioners with significant experience in cross-cultural work. This should be a college standing committee.

Engagement (outreach)

Scholarly activity that draws upon both academic and local or popular knowledge and expertise in ways that facilitate and/or produce significant knowledge and programs aimed at addressing a wide range of “real-world” problems and issues. Such two-way engagement builds trust and relationships between communities and their Universities. The goal must be to expand our efforts so that we are more responsive and effective with underrepresented and underserved communities in the state.


    • Continue to support UMES and the Regional Partnership models in efforts to forge relationships with diverse and underserved communities.

    • Create an in-reach capacity for underserved communities to inform and access CFANS resources. This resource should be constructed so that greater accessibility results for all our constituencies.

    • Offer incentives for faculty to learn the skills needed for effective cross-cultural engagement.

    • Create engagement assistantships for CFANS graduate students to develop two-way engagement models. Award these to projects specifically targeted to increasing our capacity with underserved communities identified in the Mission Statement above. 

Access and Accountability (workforce and student recruitment and retention)

CFANS must commit to increasing the representation of people of color in all areas of college life, specifically in its student body, faculty, staff and administration. The College must also reward diversity efforts to encourage innovation and participation.


    • Review and strengthen our diversity recruitment and retention plan to best satisfy our goals of attracting diversity and excellence in the student body.

    • Review and make recommendations for search committee processes to track fairness in hiring and how diversity candidates are recruited for positions.

    • Work with HR to insure that hiring policies encourage the diversification of the workforce.

    • Reward faculty for effort incorporating cultural diversity in their portfolio (at the performance review). The performance review process should include the ability to document faculty cultural diversity efforts as core to the work of the College.

    • Require departments to document their efforts in developing multicultural tools and programs (annual review). The departmental annual review process should provide benchmarks for their cultural diversity effort.

    • Develop faculty pool and entrain PhD candidates from institutions around the nation to consider CFANS as a first option as they embark on and build their careers (develop resources).

    • Develop systems of accountability to expected diversity outcomes. 

    • Strengthen current Student Service culturally sensitive “best practices” programs for recruitment and retention (SEAM, peer mentors, scholarships, culturally sensitive programming and assistance).

      • Continue to develop our relationships and strengthen the CFANS Student Excellence in Academics and Multiculturalism (SEAM) program. SEAM is geared to incoming multicultural freshman that provides students with a chance to regularly connect and form a community and friendships with other first-year students. The program provides social events and a learning cohort for participating students. Students in the SEAM program participate in a cohort model involving several courses in common.

      • Support the activities of the local Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapter. MANRRS is a student organization that provides students with a chance to participate in a national professional development organization, acquire leadership skills, network and identify internship and professional opportunities. Encourage participation in the National MANRRS conference.

      • Students of color need the opportunity to receive specialized, culturally specific support. The College will continue to host bi-weekly SOC student meetings. These meetings should also focus to provide an area for students to learn about the many opportunities of the University community as well as about specific program opportunities such as the McNair Scholarship, graduate school options and meet with external corporate and community resources. 

      • Scholarship opportunities are an essential component of recruiting and retaining the best SOC candidates. The College must continue to sustain and develop its cultural diversity/first generation scholarship efforts. 

      • Peer mentoring for the first semester. All new high school students of color attending CFANS should be offered a peer mentor for their first year. The mentors will help students understand the registrations process, assist in making sense of the campus, and offer the benefit of their experience. 

      • We must develop greater relationships with pipeline institutions from middle school onward (as exemplified by our relationship with the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences). 

Academic/Social Culture Issues (climate and environment)

The College must be prepared to tackle the institutional challenges to transforming our campus culture. Providing an inclusive and accommodating workplace and learning environment for all of our employees and students will require perseverance with expected outcomes led by a clear vision announced by the administrative team.


    • Conduct a baseline assessment of the diversity climate using the Intercultural Development Inventory. Clearly, understanding our current baseline provides us a way to measure success in achieving outcomes.

    • Build relationships with institutional partners and other institutions interested in collaborating on and developing diversity goals.

    • Encourage all current working group efforts to commit to inclusive language and identify areas for incorporating cultural diversity.

    • Create an External Community Liaison Committee. The College needs to establish a liaison committee with representatives from traditional stakeholder groups, new immigrants and underserved groups across the state. This will allow CFANS to better respond to their needs and provide a forum for understanding the unique interests of underserved communities.

    • Institute a CFANS policy review for diversity implications. Casting change in the context of CFANS policies insures continuity of purpose and sustainable outcomes even though personnel may change.

    • Provide training opportunities (in-service and other faculty/staff development workshops). Offer faculty and staff the opportunity to attend professional development opportunities related to building effective cultural diversity and inclusion skills. The intent of this effort is to enhance the long-term capacity of the College to adequately meet the needs of diverse faculty, students, staff and communities related to environmental issues and the food system.

    • Capacity building efforts should include integrating, generating and disseminating new research on ‘cross-cultural engagement’ that will be used to train collegiate faculty on how to incorporate cultural diversity into research, teaching and outreach functions.