Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) strives to address, explore, educate, understand, and respond to the diversity of the human experience.

The JEDI Committee will be a thought-partner to foster open and transparent communication with KGI’s senior leadership by working to promote strategic priorities related to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion issues.

KGI is an educational community which values, recognizes, and embraces diversity among our students, staff, and faculty. It seeks to provides an inclusive learning and research environment where each person feels a sense of belonging and respect.


The JEDI Committee works to integrate best practices for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into institutional values, policies, and programs. The JEDI Committee will provide research and policy recommendations, event support, and guidance to KGI’s leadership as requested.

How is the JEDI Committee Defined?

  • Justice is the goal of addressing inequities to foster equitable participation of all groups and acknowledging systemic and historical barriers to access of power, education, and other opportunities for personal activity and social privileges.

  • Equity ensures that everyone has support and access to the resources needed to be successful and identifying and eliminating both structural and personal barriers that have prevented the full participation of communities most impacted by systemic oppressions.

    • Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the policies, procedures and processes of institutions and systems, as well as in the distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society and institution.( such issues as institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, etc.)
    • Equity differs from equality. Equality refers to treating everyone the same, but does not necessarily lead to equitable outcomes because diverse communities have diverse needs and have faced historically and continue to face varying obstacles and inequities.
    • The range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values systems, national origin, political beliefs, and cultures.
    • Diversity means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. It’s a set of conscious ideals, policies and practices that seek to understand and appreciate the interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
  • Ensuring that people of all backgrounds, identities, abilities, perspectives, and beliefs have an equitable opportunity to belong, achieve success, and contribute in positive ways to their communities. An inclusive institution promotes and sustains a sense of belonging. KGI seeks to value and practice respect where all people are recognized for their inherent worth and dignity, talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of knowing and living.

JEDI Committee Members

Cynthia Agu
Cross-Cultural Global Diversity Chair and/or Student Government President
Jay Chok
Associate Professor of Management, Henry E. Riggs, School of Applied Life Sciences
Jeniffer Hernandez
Assistant Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Cheryl Merritt
Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Employee Engagement

Events and Initiatives

The JEDI Committee is currently working on the following KGI campus-wide initiatives:

  • A KGI-wide Climate Survey
  • A KGI Campus Read for the 2021 – 2022 academic school year (see below)
  • A mentorship program throughout KGI for students, faculty, and staff
  • DEI Workshops & Trainings, both virtual and in-person
  • A comprehensive JEDI Calendar, that acknowledges months, weeks, and days that are of cultural, national, or religious importance.
  • Caste flyer

    The JEDI Committee has selected a Book of the Year for the 2021–2022 academic year. A Book of the Year, also known as a Common Read, can bring an educational institution’s community closer together through interpersonal discussion and reflection of a book’s themes and how they apply to both the community and an individual’s personal, academic, and professional lived experiences. For our inaugural year, the JEDI Committee has voted on and selected Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. The JEDI Committee will host the first book discussion on Friday, September 24 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in Building 517, Room 165 (Founders Room). Light refreshments will be provided.


    Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

    Why for KGI

    Wilkerson makes a case that caste, while similar to class, has one key distinction: you can’t earn or wed your way out of the caste. It is embedded within you since birth, something you cannot will away, no matter how hard you climb the social ladder or how much you temper yourself to appease those who believe they are “above” you. Americans that are in a higher caste – largely natural-born white men and women – remain mostly oblivious to the caste system. However, as the United States attempts to be a more equitable, inclusive society both on a socioeconomic and racial level, those in the higher caste will do everything in their power to keep their privilege and power intact. This book would provide KGI with outstanding insight into what privilege is in America, who wields it, and why America still has yet to become a country where everyone’s unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fully realized.

    Additional Information and Where to Purchase

    • Isabel Wilkerson’s website
    • Purchase directly from Penguin Random House
    • Purchase from Bookshop
    • Purchase from Barnes and Noble
    • Purchase from Amazon
    • If you have a LA County Library Card, you can borrow Caste either physically or as an e-book/audiobook through library apps such as Libby, Hoopla, and Overdrive. To request a digital library card, click here or visit the Claremont Public Library in downtown Claremont for a physical card application. Caste is also available to read through The Claremont Colleges Library Services and can be searched/requested for here.