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New Inclusion & Diversity Strategy Certificate Launch

With increasing diversity in the U.S. and global workforce and the current movement for social justice, many organizations today are looking to build more inclusive cultures for their people. We in HRD know that our students, as HR professionals, will be called upon to lead these initiatives. To prepare our students for this work, we are launching a new Graduate Certificate in Inclusion & Diversity strategy this Fall. This certificate will be offered both online and on campus for students in the HRD program and can be earned independently or in conjunction with the Master of Science in Human Resource Development.

This certificate has been almost two years in the making. With the help of several of our faculty who work in the diversity & inclusion space (Thank you, Todd and Jameel!), we have developed a curriculum that will prepare students to support and lead strategic inclusion and diversity efforts in a variety of organizational settings. This certificate is one of the first strategically-focused, for-credit graduate level certificates available to students working at any level within an organization (entry, senior, executive) from an HR or non-HR background.

Pictured above is Villanova HRD Student, Christine Ramsay. Christine is the Global DEI Engagement Leader for Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

The Curriculum

The Inclusion & Diversity Strategy Certificate is comprised of 15 credits. We will be adding four new 1.5-credit elective courses to the HRD program to focus the curriculum around foundation areas of knowledge that are needed for anyone working in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Below is the full curriculum. To see the curriculum details for each course, visit the HRD course list.

  • HRD 8419: Foundations of Strategic Human Resources (3 credits)

  • PSY 8875: Organization Development (3 credits)

  • HRD 8421: Diversity in a Global Economy (3 credits)

  • HRD 8304: Emotional Intelligence (1.5 credits)

  • HRD 8305: Cultural Competence, Equity, & Social Justice (1.5 credits)

  • HRD 8306: Measuring I&D Initiatives and Effectiveness (1.5 credits)

  • HRD 8307: Work, Family, and Career Considerations (1.5 credits)

The Faculty

In preparation for the launch of this certificate, the HRD program has partnered with faculty from across the university, including the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, to bring a diverse perspective to the curriculum.

The HRD program already has two faculty members, Christian Thoroughgood and Heather Cluley, whose research in diversity and inclusion and work-family topics align with this curriculum. Faculty members from the Public Administration program, Danielle Gadson and Wesley Procter, as well as Theresa Boyer, Founding Director of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership, will be joining HRD to work on course design and teach several of the new electives.

We are excited to also be adding a new adjunct faculty member to our team, Melonie Parker. Melonie is a 2014 graduate of the MS HRD program and is currently the Chief Diversity Officer at Google. Melonie, along with current adjunct faculty members Jameel Rush, Chief Diversity Officer at Aramark, and Todd Corley, Former Chief Diversity Officer at Abercrombie & Fitch, will bring a real-world application to the curriculum. Our students will be learning from leaders actively engaged in this work and changing the DEI landscape in organizations today.

Why Inclusion First?

You may have noticed we are calling this certificate Inclusion & Diversity Strategy, instead of Diversity & Inclusion Strategy; this was intentional. So often diversity and inclusion (D&I) are grouped together and viewed as the same thing. But that is not the case. According to research, “in the context of the workplace, diversity equals representation. But without inclusion, the crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, foster innovation, and lead to business growth won’t happen.” This certificate is taking an inclusion-first mindset to recognize that organizations must first understand how to build truly inclusive cultures – ones that create psychological safety, appreciate differences, and include diverse perspectives in all aspects of business – if they want to retain diverse talent.

We are excited for the launch of this certificate and the work our students will be leading in organizations in the future to help make our workplaces more inclusive for all employees and people. If you are interested in this program, connect with us at

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