Social Identity Development and Discordance in an Intersectional Diversity and Inclusiveness Workshop

  • Dena R Samuels University of Colorado at Colorado Springs


Diversity and inclusiveness training is a critical component of developing and maintaining an inclusive workplace or college campus. The more social justice educators can understand the process of learning that takes place in diversity workshops, the better prepared we will be to increase workshop effectiveness, and work toward building inclusive environments. As such, Hardiman and Jackson’s social identity development model is considered in this study. Qualitative interviews from faculty participants of an intersectional diversity and inclusiveness workshop at a 4-year public institution of higher education demonstrate a potential missing stage in their model. Termed discordance in this paper, this stage is offered as a step between their model’s acceptance and resistance stages, and is characterized by reactions that suggest participants’ being caught between these two stages. It is argued that discordance can be so profound among diversity workshop attendees, that it could be considered a separate stage of its own. The study further focuses on how participants’ social group memberships affect their reactions to the workshop, and explores the emotional component inherent in diversity and inclusiveness workshops. Implications are provided for understanding the learning process of participants for any social justice educator and/or diversity and inclusiveness workshop facilitator.

Author Biography

Dena R Samuels, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Samuels is a sociologist specializing in race, gender, sexuality, and social justice curriculum development and training.  She is a Senior Instructor in Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, and has received the university’s Outstanding Instructor Award. As a Senior Consultant for UCCS’ Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, Samuels provides seminars and consultation to campuses and organizations around the country and beyond, on the processes of integrating diversity and building inclusiveness.

Area of specialization: pedagogy of privilege; social justice; race, gender, sexuality, religion
How to Cite
Samuels, D. (2013). Social Identity Development and Discordance in an Intersectional Diversity and Inclusiveness Workshop. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 3(1). Retrieved from