DIB Glossary: Foundational Concepts & Affirming Language

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DIB Glossary Cover Image

At Harvard University, we aim to become the world’s recognized leader in sustainable inclusive excellence by fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. To reach this goal, we seek to transform our community into a highly informed campus with overlapping goals and shared vocabulary which will enable all of us to advance inclusive excellence where we work, live, and learn. The Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging offers this glossary to serve as a resource for achieving this shared vision. This document is intended to provide a starting point for exploring key terms as they relate to diversity, equity, inclusion, oppression, identity, access, and culture. This glossary includes terms used in diversity-learning frameworks, social justice movements, and academic research.

Aligned with the Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging mission, we hope this glossary will:

  • ground our discourse in mutual understanding
  • aid in facilitating difficult conversations and encourage constructive dialogue
  • hinder the spread of misinformation
  • and foster a campus culture where everyone can thrive

This glossary of terms was formatted and adapted by the Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging using several resources and consulting with members of our community and the DIB Leadership Council. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of terminology used in our conversations about diversity and equity. Because language is a reflection of the lived experience, many of these words and terms will continue to evolve as the lived experience evolves. Even so, it is still useful to have a reference that provides basic working definitions to facilitate shared discussions.

This guide is a continously evolving document that we plan to improve over time. We welcome your input. Please feel free to provide any feedback at dib@harvard.edu


Click here to download the glossary