Undergraduate students’ perceptions of diversity over time.

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2 Scopus citations


The United States is an increasingly diverse nation. It is therefore critical to cultivate an appreciation of racial difference. To bridge lay understandings with the reality of racial inequality, we must understand the ways citizens think about diversity and contextualize these within our current racial structure. In this paper, we interviewed 32 first- and second-year college students about their perceptions of diversity and, in the context of diversity, how well they fit in at their university. We reinterviewed 18 of these students 2 years later, when they were in their third or fourth year in college. We found that these students classified a wide range of traits under the concept of diversity. With respect to race, students exhibited a high degree of what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva describes as color-blind racism. Beyond that, we found that although students’ attitudes about diversity were quite stable over these 2 years, there were interesting changes. Namely, students’ introduction of learning styles and career goals in the second interviews reflects both the depth with which individuals’ concepts of difference and diversity are deeply embedded in their social context, and that color-blind ideology is flexible enough to incorporate these context-specific frameworks. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education


  • diversity
  • higher education
  • race


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