Multiculturalism on Campus: Theory, Models, and Practices for Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusion

reviewed by Meseret Hailu & Frank Tuitt - February 08, 2017

coverTitle: Multiculturalism on Campus: Theory, Models, and Practices for Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusion
Author(s): Michael J. Cuyjet, Mary F. Howard-Hamilton, Diane L. Cooper, & Chris Linder (Eds.)
Publisher: Stylus Publishing, LLC., Sterling
ISBN: 1620364166, Pages: 427, Year: 2016
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In the second edition of Multiculturalism on Campus: Theory, Models, and Practices for Understanding Diversity and Creating Inclusion, editors Michael J. Cuyjet, Mary F. Howard-Hamilton, Diane L. Cooper, and Chris Linder compile a robust anthology on creating an inclusive campus climate for college students. This volume takes an intersectional approach to college student development by providing a thorough overview of the frameworks, applications, and assessments of multiculturalism. Across their chapters, the authors focus on student development. The bulk of their content is dedicated to racial and ethnic identity development. While a wide variety of student groups are discussed, the editors make a concerted effort to unify the distinct chapters by identifying similarities in different multicultural theories and the shared experiences of various groups of learners. Ultimately, because the book is so application-oriented (e.g., the chapters include resources like case studies, discussion questions, and implementation suggestions), it is particularly useful for student affairs professionals and practitioners.


This comprehensive book is divided into three parts. They are titled “Awareness of Cultural Issues,” “Information on Cultural Populations,” and “Critical Consciousness of Cultural Competence.” In this review, we organize our comments using the four pillars of Inclusive Excellence (IE). These include diversity, equity, inclusion, and excellence. While each chapter does not exclusively focus on any one of these pillars, we find that the IE framework is useful for capturing the most salient ideas.


First, diversity is the representation of a multitude of identities along different social axes. This includes race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, and sexual orientation. As a pillar of the IE framework, diversity is a fundamental part of a multicultural campus because the presence of difference is necessary for complex thinking and meaningful learning (Antonio, Chang, Hakuta, Kenny, Levin, & Milem, 2004). In Multiculturalism on Campus, the second section focuses largely on diversity because the authors highlight key characteristics of student groups across different races (e.g., Latinas and Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Native Americans, and Biracial and Multiracial people), nationality (e.g., international versus domestic), gender (e.g., men and women), sexuality (e.g., Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual), age, ability status, and religious or spiritual identity. For example, Ortiz and Hernandez (Chapter Five) highlight how family support informs the college student experiences of Latina and Latino students. Park and Poon (Chapter Six) problematize the model minority stereotype for Asian American and Pacific Islander collegians. Bitsóí (Chapter Eight) investigates the impact of tribal sovereignty and tribal culture for Native American student success. Finally, Kneiss, Cawthon, and Walker (Chapter Thirteen) describe the history of LGBTQIA movements on college campuses. This includes a discussion on issues like how heterosexism and homophobia shape identity development. Diversity as a pillar of IE is most evident in this part because all of its chapters primarily focus on a description of demographics and the historical positioning of student groups on American campuses. Moreover, since most of the chapters in the book are dedicated to this section, we conclude that the text is appropriately focused on the importance of embracing the compositional diversity of different intersecting identities.


Second, equity is the commitment to understanding and addressing unequal patterns in student outcomes. As a pillar of the IE framework, equity is important because it requires personal and institutional recognition of injustice. It also uses a color-conscious view of differences among various racial groups (Acker, 2006; Harris & Bensimon, 2007). The third section, “Critical Consciousness of Cultural Competence,” is comprised of just one chapter (Chapter Seventeen). It demonstrates the importance of equity by showing that a mere recognition of difference is insufficient in supporting students. By addressing the need for critical consciousness in personal and professional interactions on college campuses, Linder and Cooper advocate for reflexive transformational change in the practices of student affairs practitioners. This call for equity is especially evident as the authors remind readers that this work requires “educators to understand themselves, their experiences, and ways to engage in action related to social change, rather than just understanding those who are different from themselves, critical consciousness pushes on educators to move beyond competence to continued engagement” (p. 381).

Third, inclusion is the continued engagement of diverse populations and their ideas in campus life. As a pillar of the IE framework, inclusion is necessary because it ensures that institutional policies and systems are constantly responsive to the needs of various campus communities (Armstrong, 2011; Howell & Tuitt, 2003). In this book, Chapter One (Understanding Multiculturalism and Multicultural Competence Among College Students), Chapter Two (Oppression and Its Effect on College Student Identity Development), and Chapter Four (An Intersectional Approach to Supporting Students) effectively highlight the value of inclusion by reminding readers that higher education institutions have a history of being exclusive and unwelcoming environments for minority students. For example, Howard-Hamilton and Hinton provide an especially rich summary of inclusion-focused theoretical frameworks. This includes the social oppression matrix, social identity development theory, and critical race theory.


Fourth, excellence is the commitment to scholarly and programmatic rigor. As a pillar of the IE framework, excellence is pivotal because it underscores the value of exceptional services and academic environments to promote scholarly success across student groups (Astin, 2012). In Chapter Three, Environmental Influences on College Culture, Cuyjet and Meriwether reinforce the need for excellence in college settings by offering an insightful overview of environmental influences on student populations from minority groups. By exploring the impact of physical environments, human aggregates, and artifacts on these students, the authors urge readers to consider the complexity of space and organization. They also discuss different ways interested stakeholders can either enhance or prevent a healthy college experience.


Overall, the editors and chapter authors do an excellent job of setting up the theoretical foundations of student development models by defining intersectionality, multiculturalism, and multicultural identity. Moreover, the editors acknowledge the limitations of their text. Although the authors address a wide breadth of topics, the editors recognize that some cultural subpopulations are not featured in this work (e.g., veteran students, members of fraternities and sororities, etc.). In future editions of the text, we recommend framing the book through the lens of critical consciousness (discussed in Chapter Seventeen) at the beginning, not at the end. In doing so, the editors would turn the scholarly gaze towards higher education institutions, rather than each student group having its own unique set of issues. By putting the burden of transformation and understanding on institutions, the editors clearly advocate for the value of diversity, equity, inclusion, and excellence on campuses to support college students from all backgrounds. Finally, Multiculturalism on Campus is an especially useful resource for practitioners in these challenging times as higher education institutions continue to wrestle with creating inclusive and affirming campus environments for their increasingly diverse student bodies.


Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes. Gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441–464.

Antonio, A. L., Chang, M. J., Hakuta, K., Kenny, D. A., Levin, S., & Milem, J. F. (2004) Effects of racial diversity on complex thinking in college students. Psychological Science, 15(8), 507–510.

Armstrong, F. (2011). Inclusive education, school cultures, teaching, and learning. In G. Richards & F. Armstrong (Eds.), Teaching and learning in diverse and inclusive classrooms (pp. 7–18). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Astin, A. W. (2012). Assessment for excellence. The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Harris, F., & Bensimon, E. M. (2007). The Equity Scorecard: A collaborative approach to assess and respond to racial/ethnic disparities in student outcomes. Responding to the Realities of Race on Campus, 2007(120), 77–84.

Howell, A., & Tuitt, F. (2003). Race and higher education: Rethinking pedagogy in diverse college classrooms. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 08, 2017 ID Number: 21818, Date Accessed: 12/8/2021 4:09:03 AM

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