• New students walk across campus as part of Convocation

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging Climate Study

Assessing where we’re at.


Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence Barb Lundberg
Phone: 715-682-1344

Explore the Initiative

Northland College is conducting a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Climate Study to get a current pulse of campus and the experiences different populations have. This is a qualitative study, and Northland partnered with an expert in climate studies—Rankin Climate—to conduct focus groups and analyze themes from them.

Climate Study Timeline
The DEIS Climate Study involves four primary phases. The first phase was planning and developing focus groups, followed by conducting focus groups on March 20, 2023, data analysis, and presenting of findings towards the beginning of the 2023–24 academic year.

Focus Groups

The DEIS Climate Study is centered on data gathered from focus groups based around affinity identities. Northland’s partner for the DEIS Climate Study, Rankin Climate, brought outside facilitators to campus to conduct them on March 20, 2023.

Student Focus Groups

  • Latina/o/x and/or Hispanic Students
  • Black Students
  • LGBTQ+ Students
  • Students with Disabilities and/or Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Indigenous, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Students
  • BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Students
  • Student Athletes
  • First Generation and/or Low Income Students
  • General/Open Student Group
    All students are eligible for this group.

Employee Focus Groups

  • Staff from Dining Services, Maintenance/Facilities, and Campus Safety (Contracted Services Staff)
  • General/Open Staff Group
    All staff members are eligible for this group.
  • Non-tenured Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Instructors, and Teaching Fellows
  • Staff and Faculty who are Care Providers (Children, elderly, etc.)
  • Women, Nonbinary, and Transgender Employees
  • BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Faculty and Staff
  • General/Open Faculty Group
    All faculty are eligible for this group.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is campus climate?

Dr. Susan Rankin of Rankin Climate, which is serving as the outside consultant for Northland College’s DEIS Climate Study, defines campus climate as “the current attitudes, behaviors, standards, and practices of employees and students of an institution.” The climate is often shaped through experiences, perceptions, and institutional efforts.

Why is a positive climate important?

Dr. Rankin’s research maintains that positive personal experiences with campus climate and positive perceptions of campus climate generally equate to successful outcomes. Examples of successful outcomes include positive educational experiences and healthy identity development for students, productivity and sense of value for faculty and staff, and overall well-being for all.

Why is Northland College conducting a climate study?

The DEIS Charge issued by the College’s Board of Trustees called for conducting a study. In addition, it’s imperative to assess the current environment to inform where improvements can be made.

Who will be conducting the DEIS Climate Study?

The DEIS Task Force’s Climate Working Group was charged with spearheading Northland College’s DEIS Climate Study. After a review of potential vendors, the institution selected Rankin Climate to conduct the climate project. Rankin Climate reports directly to the Climate Work Group.

Dr. Susan Rankin (Rankin Climate) is the consultant overseeing this project. Dr. Rankin is an emeritus faculty member of Education Policy Studies and College Student Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Dr. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than two hundred institutions across the country. She developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a “comprehensive, five-phase strategic model of assessment, planning and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities.” (Rankin & Reason, 2008).

Why wasn’t a Northland College researcher selected to conduct the DEIS Climate Study?

In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies, the Climate Work Group identified several best practices. One was the need for external expertise in this type of project administration. A project of this type, relating to a very sensitive subject like campus climate, is likely to yield better results and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside partner. Some members of a college community may feel particularly unable to respond honestly to a project administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.

What will be included in the final presentation?

The consultant will present the project findings to the campus community toward the begging of Fall Term in 2023.