CU Engage Side-by-Side

Boulder: CU Engage

Improving Campus Inclusivity, Resources, and Leadership Opportunities for Students of Color at CU Boulder

Learn more about how CU Engage studied and took action to understand the experience and needs of students of color in Boulder, Colorado below!

Project Overview

“Diversity and inclusion” is a phrase that comes up a lot in the context of education, and the CU Boulder campus is no exception. Educators want to know how to be more supportive to the Students of Color in their classrooms. When CU Engage, the new Center for Community-Based Learning and Research formed, faculty director Ben Kirshner wanted to explore how civic engagement programs at CU could become more aligned with the goals, talents, and interests of Students of Color. What would be the best way to find out how to design programs and spaces with Students of Color in mind? CU Engage decided to ask students themselves. Better yet, students would ask students, in a participatory action research project funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and CU Engage. Their team, consisting of a total of six undergraduate students, one graduate student, and one professor, from a multitude of diverse backgrounds, came together to find out what they could learn from Students of Color about student engagement and activity to help inform the strategic planning of university programs. They developed an interview protocol, interviewed Students of Color from across campus, coded and analyzed their data, formulated claims, and generated recommendations for staff and faculty to make spaces on campus better for Students of Color.


What they found was that Students of Color were already motivated to engage in campus organizations, but some spaces were more welcoming and supportive than others. The spaces students identified as most welcoming and supportive had some common qualities and resources. Oftentimes, these spaces were providing resources to support student success, in the form of academic and material supports. Other features of safe spaces included knowing they could engage in conversations in which their voices were heard, their ideas were respected, and they would not be judged by their peers. Students also described how they wanted to join diverse programs to meet people who “look like me,” in order to gain a stronger sense of belonging.

Learn More

To find out more about what they found in this study, please visit, or check out their full report, “Students of Color are Motivated Agents of Change: Why Aren’t We Joining Your Programs?” You may also contact CU Engage at with any further questions.