Mission, Culture & Inclusive Community (MCIC)
Building a More Beautiful and Just Naropa
A confluence of events created a new landscape for higher education that provides Naropa an opportunity for redefining higher education and a demand that institutions of higher education provide more inclusive student services and are both innovative and streamlined in how we provide those services.
Moreover, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and its widespread impact, necessitates that we whole-heartedly engage with institutional transformation to become more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive (JEDI).
In response, Naropa University made some structural changes to evolve our university with a more integrated mission and the ways we impact the world.
What MCIC Does
Mission Integration throughout the University: The Community Compass
In fall 2021, Naropa launched an updated purpose, mission, vision and values statement, our Community Compass. From this, MCIC leads with support and accountability to ensure Naropa faculty, staff, and students are working and learning in alignment with mission integration at all levels of the student experience.
Shape Organizational Culture through Employee Training & Engagement
Mission integration at every level means working to support the employee experience from day one. MCIC collaborates with Human Resources and other university partners to provide a mission integrated onboarding experience including Naropa’s History and Contemplative Heritage, JEDI training, practices, and dialogue.
Develop and Maintain an Inclusively Excellent and Engaged Co-curricular Student Experience
Inclusivity is the practice of building just and equitable communities. Inclusivity requires that we continuously awaken, and work to dismantle, the ideologies, patterns, systems and practices that perpetuate oppression while working to fuse forces of collective liberation.
Building a Community of Practice and Sacred Space
We honor cultural heritage and awareness in community and practice through our ‘Community of Practice’ with weekly gatherings and community meditation practice. MCIC is a proud producer and sponsor of several Naropa Signature events including Convocation, Welcome Week, Practice Day, Community Week, Naropa’s Lunar New Year Celebration, Earth Justice Day, and we curate sacred space on campus including our meditation halls, shrines, gardens, and the Center for Culture, Identity, and Social Justice.
Foster Collaboration and Shared Resources Across Multiple Centers
Mission Culture and Inclusive Community Offices and Centers include:
- Inclusive & Restorative Community
- Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI)
- Community Repair and Support Team (CReST)
- Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education (CACE)
- Joanna Macy Center for Resilience and Regeneration (JMCR)
- Sustainability (Regeneration)
- Resilience (the life work of Joanna Macy’s “The Work That Reconnects”)
MCIC's Mission & Values
Mission Culture and Inclusive Community’s mission is to create beloved community through critical consciousness raising and cultural transformation. Our guiding principles are clarity, rootedness, magic, ease and service, and we engage in a myriad of practices in order to uphold our principles. As we believe that cultural transformation begins in our own work environment, we disrupt capitalist assembly line values by practicing connected and embodied collaboration.
The Division of Mission Culture and Inclusive Community (MCIC) is Naropa’s home for social justice work—celebrating diverse identities and creating a culture at Naropa that is radically inclusive. Rooted in the school’s motto to “transform yourself, transform the world,” MCIC supports students, staff, faculty, and the institution at large to grow their awareness of the dynamics of privilege, power and oppression, and to take social action. Recognizing the reality of our interconnectedness, we understand that none of us are free until we are all free, and we all play a role in social transformation. Thus, MCIC welcomes all people to engage in this work. Offering educational opportunities for personal development and social action, community building events, and support groups.
MCIC is dedicated to bringing contemplative practice into alignment with compassionate action, one person at a time.
Where MCIC Is Located
Our offices are located in the heart of the Arapahoe campus, in the Chestnut House and in the Upaya Cottage North. We also curate and hold space at Arapahoe campus in the Center for Culture, Identity, and Social Justice at Cedar Cottage, as well as the Bike Shack, Tea House, Healing Garden, shrine spaces and mediation halls on both campuses. You are invited to stop by and say hello!
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”—Cornel West
Call & Response
When Naropa is called to action, we hear the call and show our action in response.
Call: To build a radically inclusive community in which each member feels vital and celebrated
Response: Provide space and opportunities for self-love, intercultural comradery and celebration.
Call: To continuously awaken to the oppressive ideologies which perpetuate inequitable patterns, systems and practices
Response: Radically re-educate self and community with clarity of mind, connected to heart, and befriend our collective shadow.
Call: To actively, consciously, and strategically heal the legacy of ongoing colonization in all of its forms
Response: Live into collective liberation through deliberate and persistent acts of solidarity.
Created in response to an on-campus student-led racial justice protest held in the spring of 2015, the center exists to cultivate beloved community, rooted in self-love, intercultural comradery, and social justice engagement. In an effort to create a warm, supportive and vibrant space for community members from marginalized locations and their allies, the center is designated for anti-oppression–oriented activities, critical consciousness-raising, and collective consciousness. Any group wishing to use this space must use it for such purposes and may request the space by emailing the Inclusive Community Manager directly or through the 25Live! scheduling system. The center houses many events, groups, and offerings of MCIC. Located on the map as Cedar Cottage just West of the Arapaho Parking lot past Sycamore Hall and just South of the Upaya Cottage on the West Side of Arapahoe Campus, this space is open during all Naropa business hours and welcomes community members to hang out, do homework, join in practice, and share in the center’s mission.
Hybrid Delivery of MCIC Events from the Culture Center
Thanks to the generosity of crowdfunding by many Naropa staff, faculty, students and alumnx, The Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice purchased infrastructure in the form of monitors, mics, cameras, and computers to deliver our events live streamed well before the pandemic. And since the pandemic we have upgraded all our technology to deliver an even more robust virtual experience for both our residential and online students with our goal to make all our offerings as accessible as possible.
Critical Consciousness-Raising Books
MCIC and the Allen Ginsberg Library conspire to curate our social justice-oriented collection of books that once comprised the Cultural Center. The Critical Consciousness Collection is located immediately to your right when you enter the library. The Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice still houses a handful of provocative books that may be read while you are in the center without any check-out. Enjoy and liberate!
On Thursday, April 21, 2015, Decolonized Commons, the student-led movement protesting racial injustice, and specifically, institutional racism at Naropa University, pitched tents and occupied the Arapahoe Green for SIX weeks. Against a backdrop of nationwide social unrest due to the ongoing assassination of black youth, Naropa students and allied community members banded together and put their bodies and voices at risk to catalyze social and cultural transformation at their beloved institution.
Their demands were simple yet profound:
- Improve our hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, recognizing that there are students of color on campus, and the majority of Naropa teachers and administrators are not
- Emphasize sensitivity training around issues of racism, gender, and racial inequality for Naropa teachers and administrators
- Support student-led discussions on race
- Employ a special review processes before disciplining students of color, due to the potential for racial profiling
- Have a visible multicultural center that seeks to develop cultural competency through community engagement
- Implement an Ethnic Studies curricula, which examines U.S. history and contemporary social issues from multiple perspectives to arrive at a plural and multicultural understanding of U.S. society
Historical information from the period between 2000 and 2014 is filled with deep and heartfelt efforts to bring social justice work to Naropa. Following the Decolonized Commons student protest in 2015, however, the institution has made coordinated efforts toward creating an inclusive community, one being the current iteration of the Office for Inclusive Community.
MCIC hosts various Community Support Groups based on the needs and demands at any specific time. Affinity groups have become popular places for community building, cultural identity, and social action. While student groups come and go based on the nature of the student experience, MCIC consistently hosts and or sponsors several support groups including:
Students of Color & Allies (SOCA) is a group which focuses on creating a supportive space of rest and renewal for BIPOC students and hosted by MCIC staff. The group is open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumnx, and faculty but centers on the student experience. This group meets in the Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice.
Queer Coalition is devoted to curating a community-based organization that strives to curate spaces for Queer folx. This coalition is persistent in its endeavors to transform the dialogue about Gender-based violence, restorative justice, queer liberation, and BIPOC reparations/excellence. We are looking for passionate, compassionate, and fiercely educated individuals who seek to transform systemic dialogue about queer folx from the inside out. This group decenters and socially dismantles whiteness by seeking to decolonize the history, current affairs, and future ambitions of the queer community. Through compassionate communication, mutual aid, wisdom in action, and fierce acceptance of ourselves, we hope to encourage Queer and BIPOC leaders and their social development in compassionate community.
JEDI Ambassadors are volunteer community members of staff and faculty committed to being advocates for JEDI within our Naropa community and beyond. Ambassadors support ongoing education, dialogue, and practice of JEDI values. JEDI Ambassadors provide Consciousness Cafes weekly throughout the semester.
Past Community Support Groups include:
- Anti-Racist Whites & Allies
- Accessibility Advocacy & Support Group
- International Community
- Spirit of the Warrior Veteran & Ally Group
- Witnessing Whiteness
Office of Accessibility https://www.naropa.edu/academics/academic-support/accessibility-resources/
What is Gender Equity? Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
Creative Strategies for Change
Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
Towards Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples
Videos, articles and other diversity office resources
Naropa is committed to being a diverse and inclusive community. In working to foster this, we feel it’s important that all of our community members begin to work toward understanding and acknowledging the dynamics of privilege, bias and oppression. Please take some time to explore the brief learning modules below. Learn more.
These guidelines turn the Four-I’s of Oppression (Internalized, Interpersonal, Institutional, Ideological) into a path to collective liberation. They are not meant to be prescriptive or obligatory, but rather are intended to offer some assistance in creating a positive cultural shift and a truly inclusive community.
“If you have come to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” –Lila Watson
- Invest in noticing the ideas we hold inside about ourselves, our worthiness, our intelligence, our goodness, whether we feel we have a right to speak and take up space and people’s time or tend to defer to others and why. What beliefs and assumptions about the ways we need to look or conduct ourselves have we internalized? What are we denying within?
- Commit to investigating our own social locations and the ideas we hold about ourselves in relation to those positions, to engaging (rather than avoiding) areas in which we have privilege and are more likely to have influence. Acknowledge that the lens through which we perceive a situation is never neutral, and that our own social locations, and lived experiences, may hinder our ability to perceive various perspectives.
- Notice any tendency at all to be dismissive of anyone’s perspective or experience. Recognize we are deeply socialized to dismiss non-dominant perspectives, and that it usually requires acute mindfulness to notice when we do it and courage to do things differently.
- Commit to reaching out to and connecting with more members of the community- ANYONE. We all have complex identities and contribute to the diversity of Naropa. Reach out across divisions of staff, faculty, administrator, student and across campuses and programs.
- Read about microaggressions and familiarize yourself with common examples. Pay attention to interactions you witness and engage in that potentially reinforce an oppressive dynamic or assumption. Practice interrupting everyday oppression in situations in the office, classroom, at businesses, social gatherings and events, as well as at home.
- Take time to acknowledge and greet (with a smile or perhaps a hug) your colleagues even if they arrive late. Affirm one another’s humanity by asking folks how they’re doing before diving into work. Take time to do personal check-in’s. Actively listen and practice empathy. Share something about yourself. Allow yourself and others to express emotions that are present without judgment.
- Practice naming your social locations at the beginning of meetings, presentations, courses, articles, etc. Acknowledge that these identities matter, and that our own perspectives are shaped by them, and are not necessarily shared by people from different locations.
- Hold yourself and each other accountable: Listen closely and with an open mind-heart to actually hear the impact that our words, behavior or action has had on someone else. Refrain from defending yourself. Acknowledge the impact, no matter your intention. Make every effort to repair harm done or heal any rupture that has occurred. Recognize that feedback, even and especially in the form of criticism, is a gift and opportunity to be challenged enough to catalyze growth.
- Sacrifice one project to make time to join a working group or commit to attending and participating in one weekly diversity event. Check in with folks already doing this work and lend support and collaboration to initiatives already happening.
- If you are an instructor, interrogate your own course materials and pedagogy for signs of ethnocentrism, ableism, patriarchal assumptions, audism, heteronormativity, gender binary thinking, erasure of certain groups, and cultural appropriation. Revise as needed.
- Create a Brave Space. Demonstrate warriorship and the courage required to stand up against the status quo, to have unpopular views, and to break silence in pursuit of positive cultural transformation. Be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations and make mistakes with one another, rather than avoid difficult topics.
- Commit to learning the history of how various ideas about superiority in race, gender, ability, citizenship, culture, religion and sexuality have been established and propagated. What ideologies of superiority and inferiority do you see embedded into policies and practices at Naropa? Into classroom norms? Into curriculums? Into the demographics of the administration, staff and faculty? Into the laws that we are required to abide?
- Engage in to critical consciousness-raising. Commit to reading books and articles, watching films, and listening to interviews and narratives that confront issues of racism, patriarchy, transphobia, able-ism, heteronormativity, immigration injustice, and neo-colonialism.