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סטודנטים לומדים עם מחשבים

Diversity and Inclusion in Academia

During the last decade, the academic arena in Israel has become a shared space of great social importance. Thousands of men and women each year enter the gates of a campus in Israel. For many of them, the campus is where they experience their first real encounter with social groups other than their own. The relations between students from different groups – Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, Israelis of Ethiopian origin, secular or traditional people, and so on – form an immensely important social opportunity, placing the campus as a key arena for promoting and improving relations between different groups in Israel.

Because the student population frequently changes, the academia department works with administrators, faculty and staff who meet with students year after year and shape the experience of intergroup encounter on campus. Our work is targeted to influence the various campus populations, including academic staff, administrative staff, security personnel and university management, as well as organizational structures.

The academia department works in three channels:

First, developing research-based practices that promote inclusion and improve intergroup relations, and making these practices accessible through specialized guides for academic staff, for administrative staff, for security personnel and for management.

Second, developing an organizational system that reviews the application of these practices throughout campus in a frequent and ongoing manner, encourages them and provides incentives for their implementation.

Finally, implementation is accompanied by impact measurement and field research, in order to develop detailed and in-depth understanding of the various factors that promote or impede inclusion and improvement of intergroup relations in a broad and sustainable way.

Our training workshops

The inclusive classroom
orientation and teaching in a diverse class (suitable for large and small classes)

Campuses in Israel have become more diverse over the last decade. This cheering fact positions the campus as an arena with great social potential. On campus, many students experience their first significant encounter with people from groups other than their own. However, diversity brings with it new challenges in the classroom, and addressing them requires appropriate skills and tools. The sense of belonging in the classroom, the ability to speak up, the sense of fairness and tolerance in the class, and cooperation between students from different groups – these are the main focus of the workshop. The workshop is a critical compass for every lecturer facing a diverse class. On completing the training, instructors will be better able to identify the challenges in their classroom and acquire preliminary tools to address them, toward creating an inclusive classroom, whatever its composition.

The inclusive class - joint projects in heterogeneous groups

Studies show that shared classwork is a strong predictor for creating friendships, for increasing motivation for social closeness, and for establishing positive stereotypes among students from different social groups. Meaningful collaboration can take place in a lab, in a final project, in shared work in the classroom, and so forth. The workshop familiarizes participants with different structures of assignments that increase the chances of a successful heterogeneous encounter. In addition, participants learn ways to divide the class into groups and mediate relations within the working groups. Training instructors to create and manage shared learning tasks in heterogeneous groups is a practice that grows out of the study routine, allowing to strengthen the social fabric in the classroom and create a meaningful experience of inclusion for the students.

The inclusive classroom - orientation and teaching in a diverse class (emphasis on large classes)

For many students the campus provides the first opportunity for a meaningful encounter with groups other than their own. In the first year of college or university, these encounters often take place in introductory lecture classes that typically have a large number of students. Large, diverse classes require special skills and tools. The workshop offers applied tools specially adapted for teaching large classes. The practices presented in the workshop are ranked on a scale, from easily implementable practices that require only awareness, to others that demand advance planning and preparation. The structure of the scale allows for adaption to the structure of the class and to the study material and academic discipline. The lecturer can implement practices appropriate to a given class, without interfering with the teaching agenda or with academic excellence and professionalism.

The inclusive classroom – handling speech during times of crisis

The events of May 2021 heightened the need among many academic institutions for tools with which to deal with harsh speech in the classroom and on campus. Even during less fraught times on a national scale, class discussions that turn heated are not necessarily rare. The workshop offers practical tools adapted to the special challenges of a diverse academic classroom at times of crisis. These tools allow an instructor to proactively reinforce social resilience in the classroom in advance of the next crisis, to define the limits of acceptable speech in the classroom during a crisis, and to manage discussion in a diverse classroom during and after escalation

Additional tools

1. Surveying the scope of inclusion: Feelings of inclusion are measured pursuant to the "inclusive academic institution model": The findings of this scope of inclusion survey allow institutions – accompanied and advised by the Academic Department at aChord – to craft an overall organizational plan or a more individualized training program to encourage extensive, routine promotion of inclusion and improved intergroup relations.

2. A systemic organizational approach that encourages and normalizes the implementation of practices and the creation of organizational structures promoting inclusion and improved intergroup relations routinely and across the board.

The inclusive academic institution model

The “inclusive academic institution” model is an applied conceptual model developed by researchers at aChord based on two principal models already developed and validated that are widely used at aChord: (a) the inclusive organization model, which helps employers promote inclusion in their organization; and (b) the model of the ideal graduate, which enables the derivation of pedagogical goals. The inclusive academic institution model provides a theoretical and operational infrastructure for promoting diversity and inclusion at academic institutions. Its goals are to conceptualize the meaning of inclusion in an academic institution; to enable an evaluation of institutional challenges and strengths in the context of diversity and inclusion; to enable empirical and analytical measurement of inclusion levels; and to design an intervention plan focused on components where low levels of inclusion on campus were found. The model conceptualizes the unique elements of the academic institution, explains how they affect the inclusion experience of students from minority and majority groups and demonstrates how the experience is expected to affect graduates in the future and prepare them for life in a shared society.

The inclusive academic institution model is based on literature in social psychology that deals with inclusion in general and in the academic context in particular, and it incorporates psychosocial elements reflecting student experience at the institution.

The model includes four components:

(1) belonging; (2) voice; (3) fairness and sensitivity to inequality; and (4) tolerance and social closeness.

רכיב הסובלנות

רכיב ההוגנות

רכיב הקול

רכיב השייכות

Tolerance and social closeness

Students and staff – academic and administrative - conduct themselves in a tolerant manner toward others on campus and feel that they are treated by others on campus with tolerance and empathy, and without stereotypes or preconceptions, discrimination or exclusion. This element also expresses the degree to which students are willing and motivated to acquire social closeness with other groups, both on campus and in other social contexts; alongside a recognition of the difficulties and challenges of living in a diverse environment as well as the benefits of a diverse social fabric.

Fairness and sensitivity to inequality

The extent to which students from all social groups appreciate that the institution and the department promote fair treatment and equal opportunities for them and for students from other groups. The policies and practice of the institution and the department are extremely important, since they convey a message to all the stakeholders on campus and beyond regarding the appropriate, correct and acceptable norms.


The degree to which students make their voices heard on campus and express their unique group identity. The ability to speak out, to express oneself and to manifest different aspects of one’s group identity is affected by the individual's degree of security and comfort in the social environment. That, in turn, is influenced by how the individual perceives the norms and messages they register in a given space. For students from minority groups, speaking out may be more complicated, due in part to relations between the minority group and the majority, but due also to the prevailing norms in the academic institution regarding the various groups.


The extent to which students feel and view themselves as an integral part of the academic institution and especially of their particular academic unit. In social psychological terms, the element of belonging is related to the individual’s degree of identification with the collective identity of the institution or the academic unit, including: identification with the values of the institution and the department, interpersonal connections with others – students, academic and administrative staff -  and the significance of the institutional and departmental identity in their self-perception.

Blue water droplets

From the media

An article in Haaretz: The reality outside the university seeps into the campus and challenges relations between Jews and Arabs, by Shira Kadari-Ovadia

College Campus

An opinion piece in Haaretz: Jewish-Arab potential in academia has yet to be realized, by Dr. Sarit Larry and Yael Maaya


An article in the journal “Liberal” on progressing from diversity to inclusion, by Dr. Sarit Larry and Guy Ronen


An article in the journal “Liberal” on progressing from diversity to inclusion, by Dr. Sarit Larry and Guy Ronen


Our partners and clients

The Academia Department at aChord works with many academic institutions in Israel, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Sapir College, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Open University, initiating training programs and developing institutional incentives in the area of diversity and inclusion.

Academia Staff

ד"ר נעמי פריש

Dr. Neomi Frisch

Leader, Applied Models Research and Development


Dr. Soli Vered

Leader, Development of Content and Training

ד"ר מאיה דה-פריס

Dr. Maya de Vries

Leader, Development of Content and Training

ד"ר שרית לארי

Dr. Sarit Larry

Director, Academia

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