The meeting was about diversity in theological schools, something that those of us at Claremont experience every day. But like most theological schools, Claremont faces the practical challenges of not only embracing, but of being fundamentally transformed by the diversity of our community. In fact, we often call our panoply of differences "multiversity," in order to capture the complexity and infinity of our community.
But what does this mean for organizations -- schools, churches, non-profits -- and the way they operate? Those who formalize institutional systems unwittingly do so in order to preserve their own power and privilege. Or as I put it for my audience last month:
“[N]o one in the higher education context intended to insert women, people of color, or other minorities into systems that poorly served them, systematically worked against their interests, or even drove them away. But that is what happened. And it happened because the infrastructure was left unchanged ... [O]ur structures were not initially put in place by the powerful to advance the interests of the powerless.”As Claremont continues its transformation into a University, the question of diversity -- of multiversity -- will be at the core of our concerns. As we help transform this institution, we are asking ourselves how we allow the diversity of the community to help shape its structures and functions. How can our structures of power benefit those who need them most?
In whatever context you currently serve -- be it education, social service or ministry -- I hope you struggle with these questions as well.