Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Belonging in a Diverse Society


One of the most important questions people ask themselves when they enter a new setting, whether a school, a workplace, or a country, is “Do I belong here?”. How do people make sense of their belonging in a new setting, and what experiences matter? How and why do group identities, such as race-ethnicity, social-class background, gender, or national origin matter? What are the consequences of people’s inferences about their belonging? And how can we intervene to create school and work settings in which people from diverse backgrounds can genuinely and authentically belong?

Meet the Instructor(s)

Greg Walton

"As a Stanford undergraduate (Class of 2000), I was deeply impressed by Stanford research showing that just shifting how a test is represented can dramatically reduce the degree to which the test produces group differences (reducing what is known as “stereotype threat”). I realized that problems like persistent inequality in school achievement—and the societal inequalities that gives rise to—arise not only from factors such as early disadvantage, which are hard to change, but also from how people make sense of common situations in school, which might be easier. After college, I went to graduate school in psychology, where I developed an intervention to address the worries about social belonging people can have when they enter school settings in which their group is negatively stereotyped or underrepresented. This 1-hour exercise raised racial-minority students’ achievement over the next three years. Later, I served as a Fellow in the United States Senate, completed a post-doc at the University of Waterloo, and joined the Stanford faculty in 2008. I am dedicated to better understanding psychological processes that contribute to diverse social problems, and to learning how to construct interventions that address these processes to help individuals succeed in their lives."