2001 Symposium

The Diversity Symposium was the creative idea of the Diversity Collegium, a U.S.-based think-tank for diversity. The Collegium is a group of external and internal diversity consultants and leaders from the United States and Canada who meet regularly for the purpose of advancing the field and practice of diversity.

The Symposium was sponsored by The Diversity Collegium, along with Bentley College, The American Institute for Managing Diversity, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Pepsi Cola Company, with in-kind support from Fetzer Institute. Held on the Bentley campus in Waltham, Massachusetts on June 27-29, 2001, the purpose of the meeting was to engage the question: "Can a framework be constructed and agreed upon that encompasses the various approaches that diversity practitioners, researchers, and writers take to provide a sense of form and discipline to the Practice of Diversity?"Indeed, the members of The Collegium believed the time had come to clarify the concept and definition of the Practice of Diversity, why it exists, and the impact it can have on the quality of life in organizations and society.Attendees to the Symposium were selected and invited to represent a broad spectrum of diversity differences. The Symposium was an invitation-only event. The gathering numbered approximately 125 people.The format of the Symposium was divided according to what appears to be three general branches of the Practice of Diversity into which fall most of the current work and thinking:

  • Individual/Group Branch
  • Organizational Branch
  • Societal Branch

Speakers addressed each branch by presenting highlights of their written papers:* Janet Bennett, Ph.D. and Milton Bennett Ph.D., presented, Developing Cultural 
Competence: An Integrative Approach to Global and Domestic Diversity
* Richard Gaskins presented, An Effective Culture Change Agent: Using a Business Case Approach to Organizational Diversity
* Lani Roberts, Ph.D. presented, Diversity: Looking Ahead. 
Attendees received the papers in advance of the meeting. After each presentation, the participants were divided into ten small discussion groups, which were facilitated by a Collegium member. One note taker for each group recorded the dialogue in the discussion. The groups were asked to discuss their reactions to the speaker's ideas.Symposium OutcomesThe outcomes of the Symposium took written form: three papers written by the three presenters, a model of a Conceptual Framework for the Practice of Diversity, and a proceedings document. The proceedings document included a summary of the small group discussions that followed each presentation. Each group's comments were organized according to their agreements with the presenter's ideas, their disagreements, and the questions and comments that still remained for them. To record the breadth and depth of the dialogue, most participants' comments were presented verbatim with minimal editing and without quotation marks.The Diversity Collegium considered that a next step might be to consider and engage the findings contained in the Proceedings of the Symposium with the goal of incorporating the collective thinking of this group of 125 diversity practitioners into the next version of a Conceptual Framework for the Practice of Diversity.Symposium Proceedings and PapersThe Proceedings of the 2001 Diversity Symposium were published and distributed to all the attendees and to anyone who wished to receive them. Because the mission of The Diversity Collegium is to contribute to the body of knowledge in the diversity field, the conference proceedings, as well as all the papers and resources presented at the 2001 Diversity Symposium are available on this Website free of charge. Please visit the Publications page to access all the documents from the 2001 Diversity Symposium.