Strategies for recognizing the diverse strengths and social identities that students and faculty bring to the learning environment.

The Director for Inclusive Teaching Practices in the Office of Teaching and Learning offers workshops, consultations, and comprehensive online portals to facilitate the understanding and application of inclusive practices in post-secondary pedagogy.

The aim of inclusive teaching practices is to answer the questions:

  • How might our identities and worldviews influence the way we teach and interact with students?
  • How can we foster interpersonal dialogues that honor multiple perspectives and validate students’ experiences?
  • Do the materials and content in our courses reflect and honor multiple perspectives?
  • What powers and privileges might be reinforced in the curriculum that we teach?
  • Do our course activities, assignments, and exams meet the needs of all learners through a combination of group work, individual work, and collaborative learning opportunities?
  • Do our classes provide multiple perspectives by incorporating “real world” cases of research, guest speakers, films, etc.?
  • How can we provide multiple ways of presenting information, scaffolding learning and allowing for student choice?

Interested in diving deeper? Then check out our Inclusive Teaching Practices Portal to develop a critical understanding of inclusive teaching. Read key articles, learn classroom implementation techniques, identify resources at DU, and even watch recommended TED Talks and browse relevant websites.

Click on the headers below to expand each section to learn more.

For more information regarding resources, workshops, or consultations about inclusive teaching practices, please contact Valentina Iturbe-LaGrave, the Assistant Director for Inclusive Teaching Practices at OTL.

What is inclusive excellence?

Inclusive Excellence (IE) is the recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni constituents. This comprehensive approach requires a fundamental transformation by embedding the following five dimensions in our praxis:

  • Intrapersonal Awareness: Engaging in a reflexive and critical examination of the ideas, assumptions, and values that we bring into the classroom.
  • Interpersonal Awareness: Building relationships and fostering dialogues that honor multiple perspectives and inviting students to share their cultural experiences.
  • Curriculum Transformation: Integrating multiple identity groups into the curriculum beyond superficial multiculturalism and review the curriculum for hidden forms of oppressions such as stereotyping, inaccurate generalizations, and historical omissions and make appropriate changes.
  • Inclusive Pedagogy:Implementing teaching methods that enhance the engagement, motivation, and learning from and about historically marginalized groups.
  • Inclusive Learning Environment:Cares for and respects students, building professional relationships with them and ensuring safe learning environments.

Benefits of Inclusive Excellence

At the University of Denver, our goal is to make Inclusive Excellence a habit that transforms our institution into a vibrant community that embeds diversity throughout multiple institutional areas: in our teaching, in our research and in the various ways in which we engage with our surrounding community.  The benefits of Inclusive Excellence include:

  • Improved academic outcomes evidenced in higher educational aspirations, motivation, and self-confidence, heightened creativity and innovation, and stronger critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Milem, 2003).
  • Increased experiences with diversity, cultural awareness, and commitment to issues of equity (Milem, 2003).
  • Higher levels of civic engagement and a more informed citizenry (Milem, 2003).


Milem, J. F. (2003). The educational benefits of diversity: Evidence from multiple sectors. In M. J. Chang, D. Witt, J. Jone, & K. Hakuta (Eds.), Compelling interest: Examining the evidence on racial dynamics in colleges and universities (pp. 126–169). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Milem, J., Chang, M., & Antonio, A. (2005). Making diversity work: A researched based perspective. AAC&U.

Salazar, M., Norton, A., & Tuitt, F. (2009). Weaving promising practices for inclusive excellence into the higher education classroom. In L.B. Nilson and J.E. Miller (Eds.) To improve the academy. (pp. 208-226).

What is Inclusive Pedagogy?

Inclusive Pedagogy is the purposeful embodiment of inclusive teaching practices toward multiple student identity groups (Milem, 2007) and assumes that our identities operate collectively opposed to independently. Inclusive Pedagogy focuses on student intellectual and social development, recognizing the cultural and cognitive differences that diverse learners bring to the educational experience and how those differences enhance the learning environment.

It’s important to understand that while there are many frameworks and approaches that help faculty teach inclusively, the core tenet of inclusive pedagogy is that educators recognize, assess and address inclusion in all aspects of their teaching -i.e., when designing a course, when thinking about classroom management and when assessing the learning environment.

Benefits of Inclusive Pedagogy

“Even though some of us might wish to conceptualize our classrooms as culturally neutral or might choose to ignore the cultural dimensions, students cannot check their sociocultural identities at the door, nor can they instantly transcend their current level of development […] Therefore, it is important that the pedagogical strategies we employ in the classroom reflect an understanding of social identity development so that we can anticipate the tensions that might occur in the classroom and be proactive about them” (Ambrose et. al., 2010, p. 169-170).

Through Inclusive Pedagogy, faculty are able to:

  • Engage diversity in the pursuit of individual and collaborative learning.
  • Establish an environment that challenges each student to achieve academically at high levels.
  • Constructively handle difficult moments in the classroom when controversial material is discussed.
  • Foster an environment in which students feels comfortable sharing their ideas, thoughts and questions.
  • Support the success of all students regardless of background and ability.


Ambrose, Susan A. et al. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.

Milem, J., Chang, M., & Antonio, A. (2005). Making diversity work: A researched based perspective. AAC&U.

What is Intersectional Pedagogy?

Intersectional Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning by which inequality and exclusion resulting from intersecting social identities are understood, explained, and challenged. A successful intersectional approach must take into consideration individual complexity, systemic oppression, and should seek to unveil power while also making visible complex and layered aspects of oppression. As such, Intersectional Pedagogy is rooted in an understanding that:

  • Identity is a complex layering of multiple social locations.
  • Intersectionality is a mechanism for unveiling privilege, power, and oppression.
  • The application of intersectionality in the classroom requires an emphasis on political social action.
  • Curriculum must be opened to multiple voices and perspectives that highlight privilege and oppression

Benefits of Intersectional Pedagogy

The goal of Intersectional Pedagogy is to offer students new ways of understanding persistent patterns of inequality that both reflect and respect complexity and diversity. Pedagogically, the intersectional approach provides instructors and students with a critical framework for validating subjugated knowledge, unveiling power and privilege, examining the complexity of identity and developing action strategies for empowerment (Collins, 1990; Dill & Zambrana, 2009).

The benefits of intersectional pedagogical design include:

  • White privilege awareness and acknowledgment of blatant racism (Cole, Case, Rios, & Curtin, 2011)
  • Increased positive attitudes toward Muslim women (Greenwood & Christian, 2008)
  • Increased openness to experience, taking the perspective of others and endorsement of a powerful group’s dominance over out-groups (Curtin, Stewart and Cole, 2015)
  • Decreased over-emphasizing of any single characteristic or quality in the understanding of individual realities (Dill & Zambrana, 2009)


Case, K. Ed. (2016). “Toward an Intersectional Pedagogy Model: Engaged Learning for Social Justice,” in Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Cole, E. R.  (2016). “Forward,” in Intersectional Pedagogy: Complicating Identity and Social Justice, ed. Kim A. Case. New York: Routledge, 2016. (ix–xii.)

Cole, E. R., Case, K. A., Rios, D., & Curtin, N. (2011). Understanding What Students Bring to the Classroom: Moderators of the Effects of Diversity Courses on Student Attitudes. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(4), 397-405.

Curtin, N., Stewart, A. J., & Cole, E. R. (2015). Challenging the Status Quo: The Role of Intersectional Awareness in Activism for Social Change and Pro-Social Intergroup Attitudes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(4), 512-529.

Dill, B. T., & Zambrana, R. E. (2009). Emerging intersections: Race, class, and gender in theory, policy, and practice. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

Greenwood, R. M., & Christian, A. (2008). What happens when we unpack the invisible knapsack? Intersectional political consciousness and inter-group appraisals. Sex Roles, 58.

What is Universal Design for Learning?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a teaching approach that works to accommodate the needs and abilities of all learners by dismantling participation barriers and centering learner viability in curriculum development. Faculty can create goals that promote high expectations for all learners, use flexible methods and materials, and accurately assess student progress by implementing the three principles of Universal Design for Learning in their practice:

  • Provide multiple means of representation to give students various ways of acquiring, processing, and integrating information and knowledge. For example, using PowerPoint as a visual supplement to your lecture and designating one student to take notes/represent material covered in lecture and share with the class.
  • Provide multiple means of action and expression to provide students with options for navigating and demonstrating learning. For example, providing students options to demonstrate what they have learned such as essays, poster boards, video recordings, audio recordings, prearranged phone call to instructor, walk and talks, etc.
  • Provide multiple means of engagement to tap individual learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn. For example, engaging students in both group work activities and individual work, as opposed to engaging students only in individual work.

Benefits of Universal Design for Learning

While the central purpose of Universal Design for Learning is to eliminate unnecessary hurdles in the learning process, benefits also include:

• Supporting the all students in becoming strategic, skillful, goal-directed and knowledgeable expert learners.
• Allowing students to engage with course materials in ways that most benefits them helps expand their competencies and improve skills.


Burgstahler, S., & Cory, R. (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Education Press.

What is the Community of Inquiry Model?

The Community of Inquiry model was developed from a study by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer that was conducted in 2001. The model of a community of inquiry consisted of three key elements of an educational experience: Teaching presence, cognitive presence, and social presence. See below for specific descriptions of how these elements work together to impact a student’s educational experience.

Community of Inquiry Model


Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The internet and higher education, 2(2), 87-105.

Contact the OTL with questions or support.