5.2 What is Diversity?


What Diversity Really Means

Diversity refers to the great variety of human characteristics, ways that we are different even as we are all human and share more similarities than differences.

Canada is a diverse country and that is represented in the Fanshawe College student population. But diversity means much more than a variety of racial and ethnic differences. These differences are an essential part of what enriches humanity.

Think back to Chapter 2 where we investigated how we all learn differently.  Our differences in attitude, motivation, learning preferences, and personalities make is all unique. By taking time to reflect on and be curious about how we are different, we can then explore the benefits of diversity for our society generally and for the college experience.

While we should all celebrate diversity, at the same time we need to acknowledge past issues that grew from misunderstandings of such differences and work together to bring change where needed. Sometimes these issues can be difficult to talk about and generate strong emotions.

Differences among people may involve where a person was born and raised, the person’s family and cultural group, factual differences in personal identity, and chosen differences in significant beliefs. Some diversity is primarily cultural, other diversity may be biological, and some diversity is defined in personal terms. Diversity generally involves things that may significantly affect some people’s perceptions of others, not just any way people happen to be different.

When discussing diversity, it is often difficult to avoid seeming to generalize about different types of people and such generalizations can seem similar to dangerous stereotypes. Individuals are different from other individuals in many possible ways and that we can all learn things from people whose ideas, beliefs, attitudes, values, backgrounds, experiences, and behaviours are different from our own.

Ethnicity or culture is only one way we are different.

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Source: Statistics Canada, Infographic: “Canadian” tops the more than 450 ethnic or cultural origins reported by the population of Canada, 2021. Reproduced and distributed on an “as is” basis with the permission of Statistics Canada.


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Chapter 3 Successful Students Embrace a Diverse Community” from A Guide for Successful Students by Irene Stewart and Aaron Maisonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.



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Fanshawe SOAR Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Cavanagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.