Culture of Belonging

A Culture of Belonging

Martha and Martin


The story of Berry begins with a woman burdened by the desperate lives of mountain folk living in nearby homesteads. Martha Berry yearned to make things better with a vision of what could be and should be — an education of the head, heart and hands that would disrupt the cycle of generational poverty. The residential schools she founded became a Gate of Opportunity for thousands of students.

A dozen years after Martha’s death, Martin Luther King Jr. stepped forward to lead the civil rights movement. Compelled to confront structures of injustice that blocked opportunities for Black Americans, King nurtured a dream of a nation filled with communities built on a foundation of dignity, love and justice for all.

At Berry, we aspire to bridge Martha Berry’s vision with Dr. King’s dream by creating a “good neighbor” culture on campus and in the surrounding communities. Berry celebrates the increasing diversity of our campus community. We believe that a rich variety of voices and ideas makes Berry a dynamic place to live and learn.

Navigating differences in a 24-7 residential community may be uncomfortable at times, but cultural competencies of this sort serve as valuable building blocks for personal and professional success. When our differences lead to disagreement and conflict, our aim is to approach and learn from our conflicting perspectives by reaching out to our neighbors with patience, humility and generosity of spirit.

A Good Neighbor CUlture

THE OFFICE OF DIVERSITY AND BELONGING serves the campus in envisioning and implementing Berry’s Culture of Belonging in a sustainable way. The office is proud to partner with the King Center in Atlanta to build programs consistent with Dr. King’s vision for communities of love, justice and inclusion.

A good neighbor culture recognizes diversity as the means for richer relationships and a more beautiful community. It believes something does not have to happen to you for it to matter to you. It recognizes that relational restoration begins when the community admits its imperfections and problems. It prioritizes an education of the heart and the importance of character as much as an education of the head and hands. It rejects hateful words, attitudes or behaviors that violate the dignity of anyone’s personhood.

Berry’s Commitments and Values


We seek members who contribute to the intercultural breadth of our community, especially as it pertains to racial, ethnic and gender identity — as well as socioeconomic background and geography.


We seek members who contribute to the intellectual breadth of our community, especially with respect to interests, abilities, experiences and viewpoints.


We value the essential dignity of all individuals and strive to establish a culture of belonging in which all members feel at home. For this reason, we do not accept hostility toward or language that denigrates individuals on matters that define their personhood.


We value freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry as defining attributes of an academic community and believe that candid and caring dialogue about our differences can improve the well-being of our community and its members. For this reason, we are averse to censuring ideas and canceling people.

Additional information about how we put these principles into practice can be found at the OFFICE OF DIVERSITY AND BELONGING.

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