Diversity is certainly more than "unity and Integration" that is stated or felt. And, many companies are embracing diversity not only because of regulatory requirements but as a "move forward strategy" that allows them to differentiate themselves in today's highly competitive business environment. There are significant tangible benefits to be had by being inclusive....and most of them show up on the bottom line if they are effectively implemented.
An academic environment may be the perfect stage to demonstrate the practical benefits and difficulties of a n inclusive and diverse environment. Perhaps the following will give you some "food for thought":
If the academic organization supports this initiative, get a few faculty members to to develop an academic "challenge" using several groups of students, some diverse and some not (these should include groups by ethnicity, race etc and should reflect those people in the diverse group). Let these groups work through the "challenge" and then analyze the result for commonality, uniqueness and effectiveness.
Explore "diversity" from other perspectives.......One might consider diversity in the area of education as well. Have you ever had the opportunity to see all of one discipline (engineers seem especially prone to this) trying to provide solutions to another? If you are encountering lots of “instant agreement”, if you are hearing lots of “you know” and if there is general agreement on just how great things are progressing……..watch out……The results are almost always inferior to a diverse group.....try it!
Include non-students in your groups to get "how others view the process". Use people who are experienced in the subject matter but without formal education. Try to establish what might be the "educational equivalents". In some cases, people functionally working in "state of the art" feel that newly minted academics are less than beneficial to their jobs......the perspectives of these people may help in providing an inclusive environment for all.....What do they bring to the table, what will you bring.....How does one integrate these differences to achieve optimal efficiency.
We once did a panel of several student leaders, faculty and company owners. Each gave their individual expectation of how they expected to be treated, compensated and utilized. When the moderator brought up diversity, only the owners seemed prepared to speak on the subject. In my career, I have interviewed hundreds of people.....I have yet to be asked anything about "diversity"....quite enlightening......why isn't that important? Is it important for an individual to articulate how her/his background would be beneficial to an organization.......the industries know why.........
Explore Cultural diversity, the methods by which different cultures make decisions as these differences may serve as a cross check and validation process. We are all individuals and the way we see the world/problems needs to be reflective of the “swath of humanity” which we develop solutions, services and/or products for. To do this effectively, the people designing should be empathetic and representative of the diversity of the end users. Compare the decision making process and it's effect on the end users. A group of well meaning folks once decided to build a well in a village. This was in response to the knowledge that the women of this village walked several miles each day to get water. After the well was built, it was sabotaged almost daily. Turns out the only time the women of the village ever got together was during their walks to the old well........they didn't want the well in the village....cultural differences count!
Explore diversity in specific professional areas: In design, ergonomics is a good simulation for diversity. It is generally easy to get a group of interested parties together to design anything, it's fun! Tall, short, heavy, light, quick, slow, all must be represented to get proper perspective for hardware and service solutions. Sometimes we don't take the time to put together diverse groups. I once put together a group to work on a product design; They were tall, males and unbeknownst to me, mostly left-handed. There is at least one system that was designed by left-handed people for left handed people. The other 90% know it every time they use that hardware. Divide groups by physical attribute to design something and compare the results.
Do a "walk in my shoes" day...spend the day in a wheelchair, some time blindfolded, carry a heavy weight all day...2% of the population is mobility impaired.....it gives one a different perspective......Evaluate your institutions compliance levels......
I think you'll get the idea, Old/young, experienced/educated, new/old, all have something to offer.....keep looking outside the box,