In alignment with the new University of Iowa strategic plan to facilitate proactive campus cultural change to cultivate a more respectful, inclusive environment that embeds diversity and equity into the Iowa experience, the institution provides a new learning model and simulation technology to upskill in areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The faculty and staff of the University of Iowa play an important role in building campus connectedness and cultivating an inclusive, welcoming, accessible environment free from discrimination or harassment. Equipping them with the knowledge and skills to create a safe, supportive, respectful, and welcoming culture is directly related to overall student wellness and success.

In partnership with Kognito, Cultivating Inclusive Communities is an online learning experience developed by subject matter experts to develop faculty and staff gain awareness, knowledge, skills, and self-confidence to engage across differences with integrity and empathy, effectively fostering an inclusive campus community that embraces diversity.

Participate here

The simulation

In Cultivating Inclusive Communities, learners meet their virtual coaches who provide didactic content, help guide the learning experience, and give feedback. Through role-play conversations with virtual humans, learners can explore different communication approaches, consider different perspectives, and gain insights to help them navigate and facilitate courageous conversations in their daily lives.

DEI Convo Angle2

The content is divided into four episodes:

  1. Creating safe and supportive environments
  2. Examining diverse perspectives
  3. Navigating courageous conversations
  4. Next steps
Kognito Simulation Single Person


In the scenario pictured above, Kacey, a student, used language to describe undocumented students during a student government meeting that upset some members of the SGA. The learner explores using open-ended questions, reflections, and an ask-tell-ask strategy to discuss the situation with Kacey.

Key learning objectives:

  • Evaluate diverse perspectives, navigating ambiguity and complexity
  • Effectively build relationships across differences
  • Recognize and critically reflect on personal beliefs, attitudes, and biases
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills that create brave spaces
  • Act as an advocate for the rights of others and self
  • Recognize your role in fostering a caring and inclusive school climate

One of the goals of the Kognito experience is to support institutions’ DEI initiatives and in contributing to a sense of belonging on an individual level. It is the collection of individual conversations that ignite a culture shift, and Cultivating Inclusive Communities aims to give faculty and staff confidence in facilitating these conversations.

This online experience is provided to the faculty and staff of the University of Iowa by the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Division of Student Life, University Human Resources, University Counseling Services, and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.