Classroom Values, Behavioral Expectations, Inclusive Learning Environment

Many faculty intentionally leave this part of their syllabi unfinished so they can use the first day to co-construct the classroom values and behavioral expectations as one way to build an inclusive learning environment.

  • You may want to start with a short list of suggested expectations.
  • If your class is unresponsive to the process initially, ask them if it is ok for you to return assignments with grades at the end of the semester instead of within a week or two of them submitting their work. This will

    likely elicit a response and engage them in the discussion about their expectations. (Courtesy of Dr. Mitch Vaterlaus)

  • Diversity and Inclusive Student Commons website has numerous faculty resources.
  • The MSU Office of Diversity & Inclusion has a useful Guide to Inclusive Teaching with great tips on how to construct an inclusive learning environment.
  • Some faculty list their expectations of student behavior during class and what students can expect of their instructor and TA’s.
  • Many faculty include diversity and inclusion statements such as:

Diversity Statement:

Respect for Diversity: It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students' learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, first-generation college student, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, religion, culture, perspective, and other background characteristics. Your suggestions about how to improve the value of diversity in this course are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups.

In addition, in scheduling exams, I have attempted to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays. If, however, I have inadvertently scheduled an exam or major deadline that creates a conflict with your religious observances, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can make other arrangements. 

(Adapted from University of Iowa)

Inclusivity Statement:

I support an inclusive learning environment where diversity and individual differences are understood, respected, appreciated, and recognized as a source of strength. We expect that students, faculty, administrators and staff at MSU will respect differences and demonstrate diligence in understanding how other peoples' perspectives, behaviors, and worldviews may be different from their own. 

(Adapted from the University of Northern Colorado)

Land Acknowledgement

Best practices for land acknowledgments are that they be written by the individual, as opposed to copied from elsewhere.

We offer the following best practices and pitfalls to avoid below:


While a land acknowledgement might be done for good reasons, there are many ways that these statements can fail to have the intended impact. Consider the following cautions when creating your land acknowledgement statement.

  • Avoid viewing as a checkbox.
  • Avoid tokenizing or essentializing Indigenous people. 
  • Avoid only reciting acknowledgements written by others.
  • Alternately, rituals and repetition can bring value. 
  • Avoid using a somber tone.
  • Avoid using only past tense: colonialism is an ongoing process.


These practices have been identified by Elders, Indigenous community members, and scholars for developing an effective land acknowledgement.

  • The organizer of the event should deliver the acknowledgement.
  • Be willing to acknowledge where lands came from.
  • Name the specific Tribal nations and peoples who reside(d) in the area. (Exception in the Gallatin Valley)
  • Make it clear how this is directly relevant to the gathering.
  • Encourage listeners to reflect on their role in reconciling this past.
  • Make concrete commitments.
  • Inspire ongoing action and relationship.
  • Should be active and evolving.

Source: Acknowledging the Original People of this Land, 2018; âpihtawikosisân, 2016; U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, 2017

You may also want to refer to these resources:

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