AbleismAbleism Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities, whether physical or mental, and the belief that they are inferior to those without disabilities (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

Affirmative ActionAffirmative Action Affirmative Action refers to policies and programs that seek to promote equal opportunities and outcomes for historically marginalized or disadvantaged groups, often through measures such as quotas, targeted recruitment, or diversity initiatives (Lippert-Rasmussen, 2020).

Anti-racistAnti-racist Anti-racist refers to actions, beliefs, and policies that actively work against racism and discrimination based on race (Thompson, 1997)

BiasBias Bias refers to the tendency to favor or be prejudiced against particular individuals or groups, often based on preconceived notions or stereotypes. Bias can be conscious or unconscious and can affect judgments, decisions, and actions (Scriven, 1998).

ClassismClassism Classism is the discrimination or prejudice against individuals based on their social or economic class, often resulting in unequal treatment or opportunities (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).  

Critical theoryCritical theory Critical theory refers to a perspective that seeks to challenge dominant power structures and assumptions, particularly with regard to issues of social justice and equality. It emphasizes the importance of critical reflection, analysis, and action in understanding and transforming social phenomena (Kincheloe & McLauren, 2011).

CultureCulture The shared experiences of people, including their languages, values, customs, beliefs and more. It also includes worldviews, ways of knowing, and ways of communicating. Culture is dynamic, fluid, and reciprocal. Elements of culture are passed on from generation to generation, but culture also changes from one generation to the next (American Evaluation Association 2011; Deen, Huskey & Parker, 2015).

Culturally relevant pedagogy

DEIDEI DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which refers to a set of principles, practices, and policies that promote and value differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other characteristics, while striving to create fair and equitable opportunities and outcomes for all individuals (Gill et al., 2018).

DiscriminationDiscrimination Refers to the unjust or prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation (

DivergentDivergent Divergent refers to something that is different or distinct from another thing, often implying a divergence or deviation from a norm or standard (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

DiversityDiversity Differences among people with respect to age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices, and other human differences (Deen, Huskey & Parker, 2015).

Dominant cultureDominant culture Dominant culture refers to the culture that is widely accepted and practiced by the majority of people in a society. It is often characterized by its norms, values, beliefs, and practices that are considered "mainstream" or "normal" within a particular context (Duncum, 1990).

Dominant perspectiveDominant perspective Dominant perspective refers to the prevailing viewpoint or ideology within a particular context, such as a society, a discipline, or a profession. It often reflects the interests and values of those in powe

Economic mobilityEconomic mobility Economic mobility refers to the ability of individuals or families to move up or down the economic ladder over time, often measured by changes in income or wealth (Baulch & Hoddinott, 2000).

Efficacy/AgencyEfficacy/Agency A person’s belief in their own value and ability to make a difference in their community--that can lead to action (Fields & Nathaniel, 2015; Niblett, 2017).

EmergentEmergent Emergent refers to something that arises or becomes apparent over time, often as a result of complex or dynamic interactions (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

EpistemologiesEpistemologies Epistemologies refer to the theories or beliefs about how knowledge is acquired and validated, and the ways in which different sources of knowledge are evaluated (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

EquityEquity Equity refers to the policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that are representative of all members of society, such that each member has access to resources that eliminate differential outcomes by group identity (Niblett, 2017).

Fiscal barriersFiscal barriers Fiscal barriers refer to financial obstacles or constraints that prevent individuals or communities from accessing necessary resources or opportunities (Warnere, 1975).

HegemonicHegemonic Hegemonic refers to the dominant or ruling power or ideology that is widely accepted and practiced within a particular context, such as a society or a culture (Adkin, 2022).

HeterosexismHeterosexism Heterosexism is the belief that heterosexuality is the only acceptable or normal sexual orientation, resulting in discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

Implicit biasImplicit bias Implicit bias (also referred to as “unconscious bias”): Implicit bias refers to the unconscious or automatic attitudes or stereotypes that individuals hold about certain groups, often leading to unintentional discrimination or unfair treatment (Pritlove et al., 2019).

InclusionInclusion A state of being valued, respected and supported. Inclusion authentically puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an equitable environment where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed (Hudson, 2011; Baltimore Racial Justice, 2016). 

InherentlyInherently Inherently refers to something that is an essential or intrinsic part of a particular thing or concept, often implying that it cannot be separated from it (Merriam-webster, n.d.).

InjusticeInjustice Unequal treatment wherein the rights of a person or a group of people are ignored or restricted (Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2012).

InstitutionalizedInstitutionalized Institutionalized refers to something that is established or entrenched within a particular institution, system, or culture, often implying a deep-seated and long-lasting nature (Zurker, 1977).

Intercultural competenceIntercultural competence Intercultural competence refers to the ability to effectively and appropriately interact with individuals and groups from diverse cultures, often involving skills such as communication, empathy, and respect for differences (Deardorff & Jones, 2009).

MarginalizationMarginalization To relegate a person or group of people to a position of marginal power within a society (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

Modes of knowingModes of knowing Modes of knowing refer to different ways of acquiring knowledge and understanding the world (Boa et al., 2022).

MonoculturalMonocultural Monocultural refers to a situation in which there is only one culture or way of life that is dominant or prevalent within a particular context (Colvin et al, 2015).

MonolithicMonolithic Monolithic refers to something that is uniform, homogeneous, or lacking in diversity, often implying a rigid or inflexible nature (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

NimbleNimble Nimble refers to something that is agile, adaptable, and able to move quickly and easily, often in response to changing circumstances or situations (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).  


Positive youth developmentPositive youth development Positive youth development refers to an approach to youth development that focuses on building strengths and promoting positive outcomes, such as competence, confidence, connection, character, caring and contribution (Lerner et al., 2005; Lerner, 2007).

PowerPower Power refers to the ability of individuals or groups to influence or control others and their environment. Power can be exercised in various ways, such as through physical force, economic resources, social status, or institutional authority (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).


RacismRacism Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another and the discrimination or prejudice against individuals based on their race or ethnicity (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

RemedialRemedial Remedial refers to actions or measures taken to correct or improve something that is deficient or inadequate, such as academic performance, skill development, or institutional policies (Ross, 1970).

Retention rateRetention rate Retention rate refers to the percentage of individuals or students who remain enrolled or employed within a particular institution or organization over a certain period of time (Tsao et al., 2009).

SexismSexism Sexism is the belief that one gender is superior to the other and the discrimination or unfair treatment of individuals based on their gender (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

Social capitalSocial capital The network of relationships and resources that empowers communities to solve problems. The conditions of social capital are inclusive of trust, engagement, networks and agency (Calvert, Emery & Kinsey, 2013).

Social justiceSocial justice A vision of a society wherein the distribution of resources, opportunity, societal benefits and protection is equitable for all members. “Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole” (Baltimore Racial Justice 2016, para.11).

Social justice educationSocial justice education A “perspective on education held in partnership between teachers and learners” whereby the principles of social justice [i.e. equity, challenging oppression, building community & fostering agency] are honored (Niblett, 2017, p. 9).

Social justice youth developmentSocial justice youth development A way to foster critical consciousness among young people while encouraging them to act toward achieving a sociopolitical vision (Ginwright & Cammarota, 2002).

StakeholdersStakeholders  Stakeholders refer to individuals or groups who have a vested interest or concern in a particular issue, project, or organization (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).

TokenizedTokenized Tokenized refers to the practice of including individuals from underrepresented or marginalized groups in a superficial or symbolic way, often for the purpose of appearing diverse or inclusive while not addressing underlying systemic issues of inequality or discrimination (Turco, 2010).

UnderrepresentedUnderrepresented Underrepresented refers to a situation in which a particular group or population is not adequately represented or proportionally included within a particular context or institution (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).


We acknowledge 4-H Program Leaders Working Group, Access, Equity and Belonging Committee for developing these definitions.


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