Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging

PROVO, Utah – May 25, 2021 – A unique course offered at BYU Marriott School of Business is teaching students about diversity and inclusion. EXDM 350: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Experience Design, offered by the Department of Experience Design and Management (ExDM), was created to give students an opportunity to learn how to apply the concepts of diversity and inclusion in their lives and future careers.

Taught by ExDM professor Ramon Zabriskie, the class uses different experiential learning opportunities to help students understand unconscious bias, privilege, intersectionality, the difference between diversity and inclusion and their impact on traditionally marginalized groups (e.g., women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and those from different cultural and religious backgrounds). “The class helps students learn how they can influence those in their own spheres around them for the better— in their homes, families, workplaces, and ultimately the world around them,” Zabriskie says.

Some of the experiential learning opportunities in the class include participating in adaptive sport and attending activities on campus related to diversity and inclusion, such as talks presented by the BYU Kennedy Center about race or club activities for the Association of Latino Professionals for America. These activities can help students become more aware and comfortable, as well as embrace people’s differences.

Attending these outside class activities helped ExDM junior Emmy Nelson from Duchesne, Utah, see that everyone is diverse and needs to be included. “There is diversity that we can see and diversity that we can't see, and we need to be aware and inclusive of both,” explains Nelson.

ExDM junior Brianna Warburton from Draper, Utah, says she grew as a person during this class. “I don't think I truly understood love and empathy before gaining a personal lens into the lives of those we learn from in this course,” she says. “I've had experiences through this class that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.”

Many of the students who attended ExDM 350 during the Winter 2021 semester say they learned how to understand people better and developed empathy through the different assignments given in the course. The proximity paper assignment was a favorite assignment for many class members. For the assignment, students interviewed someone who is a member of a minority group or culture that is different than their own. “Those conversations were so valuable to me, along with writing the actual paper,” says Rachel Johnson, an ExDM junior from Sandy, Utah.

Zabriskie says the ExDM department hopes to expand the class and make it available to all BYU Marriott students. “The ExDM department feels this class is part of an important experience and journey for all people to go through and have become a part of who we are,” he says.

Many of the students from the class share that they highly recommend all students take the class if they can. "ExDM 350 was my favorite class in my four years at BYU,” says Robertson. “The class helped open my eyes to the challenges that diverse groups of people face. Most importantly, the class taught me how to be a better ally and that I should always be striving to learn more.”

Students playing adaptive basketball
Part of EXDM 350 includes participating in adaptive sports, such as these students playing basketball using wheelchairs in Fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Heidi Taylor.
Students participating in adaptive skiing
During the Winter 2018 semester, students also had the opportunity to participate in adaptive skiing to better understand the experiences of others. Photo courtesy of Ramon Zabriskie.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Veronica Davis