The people of Seaver College—its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—are the heart of the College; it will rise no higher than we lift it. The future success of the College is inexorably linked to the success of the members and dependent upon their ability to thrive as a community with a deep and abiding support of mission and committed to the total development of students. To seek truth in all that it does, the College must foster a deep sense of belonging in a community that reflects the full diversity of creation.
At Seaver College, our commitment to belonging grows out of our Christian mission. One way to express this commitment is through the theological metaphor of an open table. Emphasizing neighborliness and hospitality, this table centers on the gracious gifts of God and affirms that all are welcome. The open table represents an ideal and a commitment to build a community where people of all backgrounds and identities know that they are valued and important members. The open table is exemplified by Jesus, who practiced belonging by calling diverse people—paying special attention to those whom society disadvantaged, marginalized, or oppressed—and inspiring communities to practice deep inclusion across human difference. These Christian principles define and guide the approach of Seaver College to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Diversity, a core value of this strategic plan, arises from God. Seaver’s commitment to diversity is grounded in our understanding that all people are created in the image of God. Our community comprises a broad swath of humanity, with approximately half of our student body identifying as international students or students of color in 2020. This diversity strengthens Seaver College. To achieve its goals for academic excellence and Christian community, the College must act to engender the fullest possible spectrum of the creativity and personhood of God in its people. We must cultivate diversity of all forms while simultaneously developing a greater sense of belonging across our community.
Equity may be defined in various ways, but in this plan it means that community members have what they need to flourish and reach their full potential. Defined this way, equity is closely related to the biblical concept of justice, which means to make right. Because God is just, we are called, as the prophet Micah puts it, to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” We live out justice through right relationships with God, each other, and the natural world. In human relationships, justice requires righting wrongs that have been created through unjust systems and practices. Jesus’ commitment to justice was made manifest in his emphasis on those whom society disadvantaged. The Christian principle of justice inspires us to seek equity, that is, to take care that each member is helped by all toward human excellence physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Right relationship with the natural world means being mindful of natural resources, engaging in creation care, and taking steps to address climate change, especially given its disproportionately negative effect on the poor. At Seaver College, we seek to live out our commitment to equity in many ways, including listening carefully to all community members, and especially those from historically marginalized groups, investigating issues of injustice, and taking bold action to overcome injustice.
Our approach to inclusion is inspired by examples arising within the earliest communities of Jesus’ followers. Individuals from vastly different social groups gathered into communities of mutual respect and purpose to share life together. Like the early communities of Christ, Seaver College seeks to welcome, celebrate, learn from, and create enduring community across human difference. Seaver College, inspired by the call of Christ, rejects racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, bullying, ableism, intolerance, hatred, or any other practice that devalues another human being. To foster true inclusion, we commit as a community to engage in deep reflection and soul-searching on our shortcomings and to take the necessary next steps toward reconciliation and justice, both individually and corporately. Our ideal is to create an inclusive community that is caring, hospitable, respectful, and willing to grow and change when rightly challenged. We will know we have succeeded when we cultivate a thriving community where the love of God, as embodied in the self-giving love of Christ, guides our every relationship and activity—a community where each member is treated with respect and dignity, feels secure in the value of their voice, and is recognized as a child of God.
To create a diverse, inclusive community with a profound sense of belonging while acting to enrich and advance the Mission of Seaver College, the admission and hiring practices of the College must result in outcomes that appropriately reflect the richness and complexity present in humanity. The College must find new and better ways to develop its people within a university culture dedicated to excellence, effectiveness, and innovation. We must continue to increase meaningful engagement with our alumni, calling them back to their alma mater. The physical environment of Seaver College, its campus and facilities, must not only equip and enable the work of the College and its people, but it must also cultivate our ability to create community and foster a sense of belonging among all members. “Third spaces,” areas on campus where the hierarchies of the classroom and institution are nullified, allowing all to gather as peers, will be critical to these efforts. It is our hope that The Mountain, the Student Events Center currently in development, will be a premier third space on the Malibu campus before the end of this decade.
In the current decade, the following objectives are critical to developing a thriving community at Seaver College.
"To foster true inclusion, we commit as a community to engage in deep reflection and soul-searching on our shortcomings and to take the necessary next steps toward reconciliation and justice, both individually and corporately."
To foster a deep sense of belonging within the College community, Seaver will coalesce its ongoing efforts, current objectives, and future goals into a comprehensive Inclusion and Racial Equity strategy.
This blueprint will include, but not be limited to, the following areas:
- Increasing the diversity of perspectives included in the academic curriculum.
- Broadening the cultural competence of students to enable their success in a diverse, global society.
- Fostering a diverse student body that enhances inclusiveness and belonging.
- Examining and strengthening retention and support efforts for students of color and international students.
- Increasing faculty, staff, and administration diversity across the College.
- Enhancing existing programs, like SEED, and developing new opportunities to advance cultural and cross-cultural intelligence.
- Thoroughly examining College programs and practices for bias and acting justly when bias is discovered.
- Improving campus climate, in academic classrooms and across the community.
- Developing mentoring programs to support and benefit both faculty and staff of color.
- Implementing programs that build capacity to engage difference in an environment of intellectual hospitality.
Cultivate aspirational spaces that allow community members to gather to engage the life of the mind and the call of faith.
- Continue to revitalize curricular spaces to inspire students and enrich learning.
- Develop “third spaces” that facilitate and foster broad, creative engagement, belonging, and learning across the community.
Foster a culture of development and innovation, empowering each member to pursue the fullness of his or her potential in the furtherance of the College’s mission.
- Use what we have learned during the recent disruptive events in our community as a catalyst to enhance how we work, educate students, and engage with one another.
- Augment staff development and effectiveness through refinement of existing programs and creation of new initiatives.
- Initiate programs that encourage and reward innovation, developing new solutions to existing issues through creativity and ingenuity.
- Partner with the University to provide enhanced support and opportunities for childcare to Seaver College faculty and staff.
To enhance the resilience and success of faculty and staff in the face of existing
challenges or future crises, the College, in partnership with the University, will
invest in new and revised programs that contribute positively to employee physical,
mental, and spiritual well-being.
Continue to build and refine resources and experiences that cultivate mutually beneficial
partnerships between alumni and the Seaver community of students, faculty, and staff
to which they belong.