As a graduate student, you have responsibilities and opportunities to counter inequity and foster inclusion within the campus community. This includes your work as an instructor, researcher, collaborator, mentor, and scholar. Learning to create environments that are inclusive and equitable are skills that are also vital in a variety of careers within and beyond academia. Taking initiative to develop these skills as a student is a great way to demonstrate your leadership skills and your commitment to equity and inclusivity.

Steps You Can Take

Practice Inclusive Teaching and Mentorship

As a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Instructor of Record, or mentor to other students, it is important to create an environment where diverse students and mentees feel that their perspectives and contributions are equally valued. One way to establish this environment from the beginning of a course is to create time for students to collaboratively create community agreements at the start of each semester. For more guidance on how to create community agreements, review this guide offered by the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching & Resource Center. 

Also be sure to complete relevant trainings and workshops offered on campus. You can start by taking the required GSI Professional Standards and Ethics Online Course, which amongst other policy matters and standards, introduces GSIs to the importance of inclusive classrooms for diverse students. The GSI Teaching & Resource Center also offers workshops such as “Creating Inclusive Classrooms: Microaggressions and the Learning Environment” and “Universal Design for Learning.” Other relevant workshops and presentations can often be found on the Office for Graduate Diversity calendar of events and the Academic Innovation Studio upcoming events page.

Ensure that your materials and classroom methods are inclusive of students with disabilities; you can see the GradNews article “More than a Remote Possibility” for suggestions on this topic. Also consider watching the webinar Creating an Inclusive Classroom: Students with Disabilities (National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, 2020). To access the webinar, sign into the NCFDD website with your Berkeley email address.

The skills developed as a GSI and mentor are widely applicable to diverse career paths. Experience in this area will help demonstrate to prospective employers that you can provide constructive feedback, assess the work of colleagues, and mentor junior colleagues of diverse backgrounds and skill sets. 

For more on inclusive teaching practices, see the Teaching & Mentoring page of this Guide.


Integrate Anti-Racism into your Teaching and Mentorship Practices

For many scholars today, it is important to go beyond inclusion and embrace actively combatting racism in your students’ learning environment. Re-evaluate course materials and amplify the voices of BIPOC individuals by including their works and perspectives in your curriculum. Consider reading the comprehensive resource guide “Advancing Inclusion and Anti-Racism in the College Classroom”, which was recently developed by a team of UC Berkeley faculty and graduate students. Check the Office for Graduate Diversity calendar of events for offerings like the presentation Decolonizing the Syllabus, which was held in 2020.

See also these resources:


Make Your Disciplinary Participation Equitable and Inclusive

As a researcher, it is important to respond to issues of bias, exclusion, and oppression in your own research and in your discipline more broadly. Many annual conferences for academic associations will include equity and inclusion focused panels and workshops where you can stay up-to-date on your responsibilities as a researcher. Also consider getting involved with other equity and inclusion activities and initiatives offered by your academic and professional associations.


Get Involved in Your Department

Join a committee in your department or professional disciplinary body committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you can’t find one, consider creating one. Propose workshops, reading groups, movie nights, and other discussions in your department for faculty and graduate students to foster engagement with the topics of equity and inclusion and how they relate to your discipline. Taking such steps can demonstrate to future employers not only your commitment to equity and inclusion, but also your ability to take initiative as a leader, manage projects, and design effective programs or interventions.


Get Involved at the Campus Level

Search through Callink for existing student organizations to join. Graduate student government, the Graduate Assembly (GA), is a great place to make your voice heard, get involved with advocacy, and work to improve the lives of your fellow graduate students. You can join the GA as a Delegate for your department, an elected officer (such as Vice President of Equity & Inclusion), or through one of their staff positions for graduate students. Also consider joining a research group or lab focused on issues of equity and inclusion. For example, you can apply to join the Learning Community for Graduate Scholar-Activists, where you participate in a workshop and discussion series exploring the intersections of social justice efforts and your research and studies. Subscribe to newsletters from the Office for Graduate Diversity and GradPro in order to hear about other events and opportunities on campus.