Climate is a measure of the real or perceived quality of interpersonal, academic, and professional interactions on a campus and consists of “the current attitudes, behaviors, and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential” (Hurtado, 1992; Rankin, 2001). A healthy climate is grounded in respect for others, nurtured by dialogue between those of differing perspectives, and evidenced by a pattern of civil interactions among community members. Campus climate includes the experience of individuals and groups on a campus—and the quality and extent of the interaction between those various groups and individuals. Diversity is one aspect of campus climate. Diversity and inclusion efforts are not complete unless they also address climate (University of California Study Group on Diversity, 2006)
A healthy campus climate is not the same as a positive climate, or a climate that is always comfortable. In fact, healthy campus environments allow for the nurturing of the complexity surrounding what it means to live, learn, and work on an academic campus with varying perspectives, providing opportunities for growth, and developing democratic values. Climate as a construct allows us to measure the health and impact of institutional climate on key indicators. We can measure this health through three factors:
Campus climate research examines differences by identity groups or demographics on these key factors to discover important differences in experiences or perceptions.