22 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2022 Last revised: 22 Feb 2022
Date Written: February 10, 2022
Belongingness is increasingly included in conversations with diversity, equity, and inclusion, under the acronym DEIB. They are related concepts to be sure, but belongingness focuses on feeling free and safe to be one’s authentic self in a given space.
A sense of belongingness is critical for law students—it can be a better predictor of law school success than LSAT score or undergraduate GPA. And belongingness is particularly important for law students who may feel marginalized on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, first-generation status, or socioeconomic class. For these students, stereotype threat and bias negatively impact belongingness in a way that is detrimental to their wellbeing.
This essay mines the psychological, sociological, and educational literature to identify changes in the law school environment that can support and nurture a sense of belonging, particularly for marginalized and underrepresented students. In doing so, this essay urges professors to embrace the significance of belongingness and to actively work to facilitate a sense of belongingness for all students.
Keywords: diversity, inclusion, equity, belonging, belongingness, pedagogy
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