Initial Publication Date: October 4, 2018

Context Diversity: A New Paradigm for Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education

Monday, October 22, 2018

10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00 pm ET

Presenters: Gary Weissmann and Roberto Ibarra (University of New Mexico)

This webinar is part of a series supporting teaching with InTeGrate principles, using InTeGrate-developed and curated materials as tools.

Registration is closed.


Our current approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion are still rooted in Affirmative Action systems that were instituted in the 1960s. These approaches follow a diversity model that measures success by counting the number of women and racialized underrepresented minorities (URMs) in higher education. While the model enabled institutions to recruit these populations into STEM disciplines, this approach fails to address a key systemic issue in the STEM culture; valuing of one mode of cultural context in terms of knowing and doing science while simultaneously discounting other ways of knowing and doing. This is an assimilationist approach can be problematic for diversity programs and initiatives in STEM. An underlying problem is that the meaning of an inclusive environment (one that attracts a diverse population, helps everyone thrive in that environment, and values a broad view of success in STEM) has been unclear. Multicontext theory offers a new understanding of diversity in ways of knowing and doing. Presently, the culture of STEM tends to value "low context" approaches to scientific inquiry (e.g., individuated, task-oriented, compartmentalized task and concept orientation, and linear and logical thought processes) while "high context" approaches are often less valued (e.g., integrated, process-oriented, holistic, and systems thinking). Multicontext theory allows us to articulate these cultural contexts and apply them to reframe our approaches to scientific inquiry and teaching, thus activating the full strengths of diverse populations. This webinar will introduce participants to concepts and applications of Context Diversity in Geoscience.


At the end of this webinar, participants will:

  • Be introduced to Multicontext Theory and Context Diversity;
  • Be able to see how Context Diversity may influence their teaching, research, and academic careers;
  • Be provided with examples of how to activate Context Diversity concepts in their departments and classrooms.


Time - 10:00 am PT | 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00 pm ET

Duration - 1 hour
- Online web presentation via Zoom meeting software with questions and discussion. Go to the webinar technology page for information on using Zoom. Detailed instructions for joining the webinar will be emailed to registered participants one day prior to the webinar.
Preparation - There is no advance preparation required for this webinar.

Registration is closed.

Please email Mitchell Awalt ( if you have any questions about this event.


Gary Weissmann, Albert and Mary Jane Black Professor in Hydrogeology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico

Roberto Ibarra, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico


Slide set: Webinar - Context Diversity Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 2.2MB Oct20 18)

1) Welcome and introductory remarks – Mitchell Awalt, SERC

2) Introduction: Why aren't current diversity initiatives succeeding?

3) Activity: Reflection on your institution/department in cultural context

4) Multicontext Theory and Context Diversity explained

5) Practical examples for activating Context Diversity in your realm

6) Concluding remarks and questions

7) Opportunities for further interaction - Mitchell Awalt, SERC

8) Webinar Evaluation


Click to view the webinar screencast (MP4 Video 602.7MB Oct22 18).

  • References of interest:
    • Ibarra, RA, 2001, Beyond Affirmative Action: Reframing the Context of Higher Education, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 323p.
    • Chávez, AF, and Longerbeam, SD, 2016, Teaching Across Cultural Strengths: A guide to balancing integrated and individuated cultural frameworks in college teaching, Stylus Press, Sterling VA, 241p.
  • Context Diversity Matrix (Acrobat (PDF) 1.6MB Oct20 18)
  • Community Discussion