Inclusivity in Diversity: It Is Ok To Be Different

Diversity is natural but inclusivity is not because of prejudice. The day we give up our inhibitions and instill inclusivity in our soul, the world will become a better place. I am not asking to neglect differences, instead I encourage to embrace our differences positively to help each other, without judging or discriminating against each other. These same principles do apply to pedagogy as well because effective learning occurs when students and teachers unlearn their biases and learn to function together as a unit.


Diversity is characterized by, but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, language, culture etc. The reason I say that diversity is not limited by the above characteristic traits is because even people who identify with the same traits are different individuals and have the right to be recognized differently from other members of the same community. This is where the concept of “Safe Space” steps in the classroom, where students are allowed be themselves, say what they feel, without being under the scrutiny. This does not mean students can be disrespectful to the teacher or other students, but express their views freely.



It is great how Cole Blakeway explains being different as “awesome” and that everyone is perfect the way they are.  His words, “You don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken” resonate with my idea of a classroom where pedagogical techniques aim to build an inclusive environment. Techniques such as discussing uncomfortable topics in a manner that does not offend anyone and if they do, being prepared to ameliorate the situation by explaining the objective point of view or discussing the counter topics that can make students feel better about it. An example of such a situation was discussed by Professor Marcia Chatelain, talking about finding a balance during difficult classroom discussions.


Inclusive pedagogical techniques are not just mean to be followed by teachers but are supposed to be inculcated to students as well who are equally responsible for making the classroom environment inclusive. Teachers are not supposed to teach students how to be inclusive, instead they need to be taught the generic concept of inclusion and brotherhood which will help them develop techniques to make their fellow classmates comfortable. One such example can be seen below, where Dr. Nandita de Souza discusses about Shreya, a student with Down Syndrome and how her classmates encourage her to participate particular activity. Shreya’s classmates were taught how to be inclusive and they found out a way to encourage her, knowing that she performs the best when the teacher is not around which eventually helped her.



Another technique to promote inclusion in classrooms is to be aware of your audience, their demographics and other characteristics. This is really helpful in making your examples and teaching practices generic enough to be understood by the whole class, giving students a sense of belonging. Teachers should also promote interactive activities that help students know each other better. When students appreciate the teacher and form a connection with the teacher as well as their peers, free flow of knowledge occurs in all directions.


In the words of Ilene Schwartz, “Student failure is instructional failure”. Based on her thoughts, I would like to state that if a student fails to understand what the teacher is trying to communicate, it is a failure on both ends and one of the reasons for such a failure could be the lack of inclusion. Ilene considers “membership”, “relationship” and “skills” as the outcome of being inclusive. Even though there might be indicators of such outcomes during the process of inclusion but indicators should not be mistaken for the outcome. Listen to her TED talk below and see how she walks you through “The Power Of Inclusive Education”.



I would like to end with the words of William Arthur Ward,

Inspire your students to be inclusive and see the world become a better place, one classroom at a time.



1. Difficult Discussions:
2. Inclusive Pedagogy:
3. Dismantling Racism In Education:
4. Inclusive Education: A Different Perspective:
5. How To Make Your Teaching More Inclusive:
6. Innovative Inclusive Science Teacher Education:
7. Teaching Resources for Social Justice:

Broken Moral Compass: A Case Study On Research Misconduct


Ethics, morality and proper research conduct go hand-in-hand. In the modern times, ethics are an integral part of any field of study as lack of ethics would create a chaos, making it difficult to safeguard the rights of the researchers and in some cases their subject as wells. Through this blog I would like to walk you through answering the following questions:

  1.  What are Ethics and Morals?
  2.  What is Research Misconduct?
  3.  What are the Consequences of Research Misconduct?
  4.  Case Study of Research Misconduct.


1. What are Ethics and Morals?

According to the McCombs School of Business,

The term ethics often describes the investigation and analysis of moral principles and dilemmas. Traditionally, philosophers and religious scholars have studied ethics. More recently, scholars from various disciplines have entered the field, creating new approaches to the study of ethics such as behavioral ethics and applied ethics.

The term ethics can also refer to rules or guidelines that establish what conduct is right and wrong for individuals and for groups. For example, codes of conduct express relevant ethical standards for professionals in many fields, such as medicine, law, journalism, and accounting.

Some philosophers make a distinction between ethics and morals. But many people use the terms ethics and morals interchangeably when talking about personal beliefs, actions, or principles. For example, it’s common to say, “My ethics prevent me from cheating.” It’s also common to use morals in this sentence instead.

So, whether we use the term ethics to refer to personal beliefs, or rules of conduct, or the study of moral philosophy, ethics provides a framework for understanding and interpreting right and wrong in society.

From the above discussion on ethics and morals, we may not be clear about the distinction between the two but we definitely know that they point to the same goal of being true to the vision of equality and integrity in all walks of life. Research or scientific experimentation is no different, they follow the highest standard of ethical conduct since their end goal is to give back to the society. In some cases researchers fall short of ethical behavior while conducting research and that leads us to our next question.


2. What is Research Misconduct?

According to The Office of Research Integrity(ORI), US Department of Health and Human Services(HHS),

Research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

(a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

(b) Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

(c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

(d) Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

The above definition clearly states the differences between intentional fabrication, falsification and plagiarism vs an honest error in terms of admissibility as an evidence for research misconduct. Fabrication, falsification and plagiarism are the three pillars that may seem alluring but you definitely do not want the to be supporting the structure of your research.


3. What are the Consequences of Research Misconduct?

The consequences of research misconduct can be disastrous, as it taints the reputation of the individual and the organization as well. The retraction notice on the paper will haunt the researcher for years and the organization may not be ready to bear the consequences of such misconduct. The videos below explain the point of view of a publishing organization with respect to the researcher and the society as a whole:

What are the consequences of scientific misconduct to you personally?


What are the consequences of scientific misconduct to you (the author), your institution and the research community?


Also, the monetary losses related to the research are huge because, all the money and effort that went into the research goes down the drain followed by lack of funding for future project due to loss of trust between the research organization and the organization funding the research.

To mitigate research misconduct, students and researchers must be trained in appropriate research conduct. Most universities have their own training programs and checks in place to avoid research misconduct but at the end of the day, it lies in the hands of the researcher to ethically implement the best practices and avoid misconduct.

The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct” and “The Research Clinic” are two interactive resources for training by ORI to portray the best research practices and how to avoid misconduct.

4. Case Study of Research Misconduct.



As a case study, I would like to take into account the findings by ORI on Fulford, Logan. Before I start with analyzing the case summary, I would like to state that I am no expert in the field in which the misconduct occurred and my views are solely based on the findings by ORI.

The case summary has a very technical format, starting with the identity of the researcher involved, their initial statement on the accusations, a brief list of areas of research where misconduct occurred followed by an expanded version of the accusations and the steps taken to discipline the researcher.

The identity description of the researcher involved with the misconduct is a very comprehensive one, stating all previous and current affiliations. In my opinion, the need for such a detailed description is for proper identification of the researcher, setting the distinction from other researchers with similar credentials. Followed by this, the admission of misconduct is stated by ORI as:

Respondent neither admits nor denies ORI’s findings of research misconduct; this settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent. The parties entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement (Agreement) to conclude this matter without further expenditure of time, finances, or other resources.

This seems to be a legal statement from the researcher being reported by ORI to briefly summarize the outcome of the case where the researcher neither admits nor denies the claims against their research. Followed by this, ORI briefly describes two major areas of possible misconduct, specifically targeting the specific instances of misconduct. This a broad level description of what actually happened and is very helpful for the reader to understand the cause of the probe.

The case summary moves on to describe the technicalities and the exact instances of misconduct, explaining how those instances classify as misconduct. Even though some basic aspects of the accusations can be understood but this particular section does require some technical expertise to totally understand the dynamics of the misconduct.

Once the findings of misconduct are listed, the case summary moves on to disclosing the arrangements made between ORI and the researcher/research organization to discipline the researcher and prevent future misconduct. The final arrangements vary case-by-case in their severity and in my opinion the steps taken in this particular case were not extreme providing the researcher a second chance, but under strict supervision.

In the end, I would like to conclude that a broken moral compass can lead a researcher to adverse consequences and it is very important to keep your moral compass pointed in the right direction of equality and integrity while conducting responsible research.

Voice of Enlightenment: Reflections On My Inner Teaching Self


Being a subject matter expert does not guarantee that the person can successfully transfer that knowledge to someone else and is no benchmark for being a great teacher. Great teachers have the ability to impart knowledge to their students in a manner that leaves an impression on their hearts and minds for life. My goal is to get as close as possible to that ideal by inspiring and instilling in my students the urge for greatness. The techniques that can be used to reach that ideal are the ones that  I wish to discuss about through this piece. I will also reflect upon some techniques for effective teaching/learning that I have read and heard about.


As per my philosophy, I feel that practical life experiences are the ones that shape our minds and make us who we are. When a kid accidentally experiences an electric shock from an open socket, it is instantly registered in his/her mind to be cautious with the socket. On the other hand when a kid experiences natural beauty, its categorized as a positive experience in his/her mind. I primarily work in the field of Digital Forensics and Incident Response, focusing mainly on Mobile Device Forensics. Like many other fields of study, mine is very dynamic in terms of changing mobile technology and in my opinion the best way to educate students on it is continual practical experience. Practical encounters really tend to put the student in the driver’s seat, take control of decision making and responsibility for their decisions except for the fact that they are backed by a safety net, allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.



Besides delivering practical experiences while teaching, connecting with students is of utmost importance. To build that connection, you need to view students as unique individuals, not mere subjects. That does not mean you need to connect with your students at the personal level, but at an intellectual level where knowledge can be exchanged and learning occurs. Take a look at how Joe Ruhl in his TED talk on “Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future” establishes a positive connection with his students. Even though the same strategies may not be applicable to college students and teachers but it definitely inspires us to establish connection with students. I also admire the fact that he acknowledges the “2 Loves” of teaching, the first one being love  for the subject that the teacher is teaching and second, the teacher’s unemotional love for their students.


Joe Ruhl’s TED talk on “Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future”:


Teaching should be interesting but that does not warrant unprecedented “edutainment”(education+entertainment). Employing techniques for making the class interactive and the concepts more appealing are acceptable, but such techniques undermining the subject matter itself may be detrimental to a positive learning environment. Another very important aspect to consider while being interactive and entertaining is your audience. As mentioned by Dr. Homero Murzi from Virginia Tech, the contexts of your humor might be appealing to a section of the audience but alienating or offending the others. To strike a balance between teaching and entertainment is the key to effective learning.


Considering Sarah E. Deel’s post on Finding My Teaching Voice, I would like to comment on her thought about being a popular professor. She states, “I am no longer tempted to blur the boundaries between us, because I appreciate the embracing that sort of popularity is not the right way to be a good teacher. In fact, I am having to reevaluate my definition of “popular” as I remember other good teachers in college. These were the professors spoken of with respect in the library rather than those praised effusively at the bar.” In her opinion, blurring the boundaries between teachers and students may not be the right way to be popular and I totally get it, but in my opinion a professor can be good enough to be talked greatly about in a library as well as in a bar because he/she might appeal to different sects of students in a different manner and that is perfectly alright till the time he/she is able to contribute to effective learning.


Listen to the Ted talk “The One Thing All Great Teachers Do” by Nick Fuhrman:


Though Nick Fuhrman seems to be a fan of “edutainment”, I really like the way he summarizes the four aspects of a great teacher into the acronym “CARE” that in-turn is the fifth and the most important aspect. His question to the audiences is “Fill in The Blank: Great Teachers________________”


Fill In The Blank: Great Teachers __________________


The answer to the question is “Great Teachers Celebrate mistakes, Appreciate differences, Relay feedback, Evaluate themselves and most importantly CARE for their students”. Celebrating mistakes is one of the most important aspects of teaching since a mistake is the prelude to learning effectively, hence teachers should encourage their students to learn from their mistakes. Appreciating differences between two different classes and students within a class helps teachers to cater to the needs of the students, based on their unique requirements. Rewarding students with innovative feedback techniques is another important characteristic of a great teacher because students do appreciate being rewarded for their work. A distinguished teacher never forgets evaluating himself since learning from his mistakes is really important for teaching and effective learning. I would like to end by saying that CARE for students is a principal trait of a genuine teacher and is deeply embedded in their nature.


1. The Authentic Teaching Self and Communication Skills, Shelli Fowler
2. Finding My Teaching Voice, Sarah E. Deel:
3. "Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future", Joe Ruhl:
4. "What makes a good teacher great", Azul Terronez:
5. "The One Thing All Great Teachers Do", Nick Fuhrman:
6. "5 Ways College Teachers Can Improve Their Instruction", Jennifer Gonzalez:

MISSION STATEMENT: A Comparative Analysis Of Universities Around The World

Mission Statement is a topic that I was not explicitly aware of before I heard about it at one of my graduate school courses “Preparing Future Professoriate”. Through this blog I wish to address a few questions that revolve around academic mission statements and mission statements in general:

  1. What is a Mission Statement?
  2. What does a Mission Statement look like?
  3. What does a University’s Mission Statement look like?
  4. How do the Mission Statements’ of universities from two different parts of the world compare?


What is a Mission Statement?

According to Wikipedia,

“A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation.”

As stated above, mission statement is a high-level description of the goals of the firm and the firm itself. In some cases, it also reflects the founding principles of the institution and their ideologies to move forward.

If you want to know more about mission statements and how they differ from vision and values statements, have a look at the video below:

What does a Mission Statement look like?

Now that we know what exactly is a mission statement, let’s take a look at a few mission statements:

Amazon’s mission statement is quoted below:

“We aim to be Earth’s most customer centric company. Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success.”

As you can cipher, Amazon’s mission statement is directly in-line with the firm’s goal of reaching out to customers globally and having them at the core of their operations. True to its mission, the services provided by Amazon have created a lot of value for customers all around the globe through e-commerce, cloud based services and various other associated businesses.


What does a University’s Mission Statement look like?

To introduce you to academic mission statements, I would like to take Virginia Tech as an example. Virginia Tech is land-grant university primarily located in the south-western part of Virginia, USA, founded in 1872 with a current enrollment of more than 36,000 students. Let’s look at Virginia Tech’s mission statement and see how it differs from a corporate mission statement:



“Inspired by our land-grant identity and guided by our motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is an inclusive community of knowledge, discovery, and creativity dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world.”

The mission statement starts with identifying the university as a land-grant university which is a reflection on its foundation principles and signifying a connection to the common principle of a land-grant university. Virginia Tech was founded as a land-grant university in 1872 and has since expanded its horizons by raising funds with the federally controlled lands endowed to the university and this aspect is clearly visible in their mission statement.

The next part of the statement focuses on the motto of the university “Ut Prosim(That I May Serve)” proclaiming the goal of serving the society. According to me, using the university motto as part of the mission statement is  a great decision and is definitely the highlight of the mission statement because a motto is usually the core value that drives the institution. Also, in this case, giving back to the society is directly in-line with the land-grant categorization of Virginia Tech.

The statement also talks about inclusivity, portraying how Virginia Tech brings individuals with diverse demographics under one roof. Inclusivity according to me is a very important aspect of any university because diverse individuals bring unique talents to the plate, leading to wholesome education.

Knowledge, discovery and creativity are key aspects to a university and hence a part of the above mission statement. Emanating knowledge to students, making breakthrough discoveries and promoting creativity are among the pillars of foundation of an educational institution and Virginia Tech has proven its mettle in all these areas.

Last but not the least, the statement mentions the human aspect where it talks about improving the quality of life and the human condition for members of its community and the world. The statement indicates that the research that Virginia Tech delivers is aimed at the betterment of humankind and signifies a connection to people.


How do the Mission Statements’ of universities from two different parts of the world compare?

To compare two different mission statements from geographically and culturally diverse parts of the word, I would like to bring into light IISc, Bengaluru, a public university of higher education and research from the southern part of India. The Indian Institute of Science(IISc) was founded in 1909, was granted the deemed to be university status in 1958 and the Institute of Eminence status in 2018. Let’s take a look at their mission statement and figure out how it differs from Virginia Tech’s mission statement:

Our mission is to realize our vision by:

Imparting world-class higher education in an environment of fundamental and applied research in science and engineering

Conducting high-impact research, generating new knowledge, and disseminating this knowledge through publications in top journals and conferences

  • Applying faculty expertise towards the success of national science and technology initiatives

Applying deep knowledge in various areas to create knowhow and developing such knowhow for utilization by industry and society


Let’s talk about the above mission statement with regards to Virginia Tech’s mission statement and see how these academic institutions from different parts of the world differ in their goals and ideology.

Virginia Tech started off by identifying themselves as a land-grant university, whereas IISc does not identify itself with any such category(for example public, deemed etc.). Instead IISc starts off with imparting higher education in the light of fundamental and applied research as their priority. Virginia Tech does not specifically focus on imparting education, rather it mentions “knowledge” as a key word to express that sentiment.

Moving forward with IISc’s statement it seems to be more detailed towards specific operations such as high-impact research, publications, journals and conferences which to me does not sound great since it is too detailed and already implied as part of research operations. On the other hand, Virginia Tech keeps its statement as a high level description, with a slight insight into its motto.

IISc recognizes faculty as an integral part of its system and their knowledge as indispensable to the growth of the university, its students and the overall body of research. This aspect of the statement I feel is an ode to the Indian philosophy of a teacher(Guru) being next to god and represents cultural incorporation. On the contrary, Virginia Tech does not talk about its constituent members giving equal importance to every member that is part of the university.

At the end, both mission statements focus on the prime motive of society or mankind benefiting from their research. Both universities may be different in terms of how they view operational, administrative and research problems, but they stand united in terms of giving back to the society in whatever ways they can.