Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

The Department of Applied Linguistics at Penn State is committed to creating a welcoming community to all by promoting the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) that it embodies. We affirm and support diversity of identities shaped by language, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, dis/ability, and socioeconomic status among others, faced by all of us in changing social contexts and intersectional categories. We are committed to equity with fair access to opportunities and resources; inclusion that fosters a welcoming and respectful environment for everyone in our deliberations and activities; and belonging that ensures acceptance and community. We align with the diversity mission of the College of the Liberal Arts ( and the University (

We promote these DEIB principles within our department, in our university, in our profession, and in the society at large. Our commitment goes beyond verbal profession to social action. We have a special role to play in these spaces in relation to our area of professional expertise in language and communication. Applied linguistics has been defined as a field that draws from diverse disciplinary and philosophical orientations to promote an understanding of language-related problems and solutions in society, taking into consideration the relevant cultural, political, and environmental contexts. We also critique the colonizing ideologies in the formation of our field, and the unjust policies and structures that constrain our teaching, testing, and professional practices, as we shape our work along DEIB principles.

As a department, we dialogue and learn from each other about what DEIB principles mean for our community. Our current departmental considerations suggest that we have to ensure diversity in the hiring of our faculty and staff and in the admission of our new students; facilitate access to diverse students to apply for admission and continue their studies with sufficient financial and other forms of support; provide a learning/teaching environment that leads to critical thinking, engagement with diverse perspectives, and responsible conduct of our roles and responsibilities; undertake research and scholarship that are ethical, just, and inclusive of different cultures, communities, and intellectual traditions; and transform institutional policies and structures to accommodate everyone’s rights and interests.

We have formulated actionable goals to accomplish the above DEIB principles; set up clear departmental mechanisms and procedures to assess how we progress on these goals; and established avenues and personnel to hear the concerns of all parties, mediate conflicts and complaints, and work towards democratic and fair solutions.

Our department treats the following DEIB concerns as key to our mission:


We hold that all communicative resources play useful functions in meaning making, with their own diverse strengths. Therefore, we critique policies that promote certain languages as superior and exclude others in education and society. We critique ideologies that stigmatize those who don’t have the capacity to speak or devalue their modes of communication through multimodal, embodied, and prosthetic resources. We work towards developing the relational dispositions, ethical values, and interactional strategies that enable everyone to negotiate meanings across their communicative differences, without treating diversity as dysfunctional or inefficient.

Freedom of Expression

We examine the boundaries and clarify the differences between free speech and hate speech. We hold that communicating with responsibility, ethical motivations, and inclusive and constructive outcomes can guard free speech from being distorted by or resulting in discrimination, domination, and violence. Our disciplinary tools enable us to clarify the discourse practices, motivations, and values that facilitate social justice and co-existence.

Democratic Deliberation

We deliberate on important educational and social issues through debate and dialogue, considering divergent arguments and perspectives, and aiming to reach a consensus that is in everyone’s best interest. We hold that decisions should emerge through a democratic process characterized by reasonable discussion, equal representation, and respect for differing viewpoints. We practice and promote a participatory democracy, where informed and reflective dialogue precedes decision making and policy formation.

To Come

actionable goals; procedures for complaints and feedback; the academic contributions of faculty and students to further the DEIB mission.