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10 Top-Rated Courses to Foster Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) encompasses programs, policies, and practices that increase the representation and participation of a broad range of groups. Characteristics like ethnicity, gender, and age create “diversity,” which can be a vague and challenging concept. For years, organizations have attempted to incorporate diversity, but it’s clear that equity and inclusion are trickier. All are necessary in an increasingly multicultural and international society. To build your knowledge and skills in DEI, we’ve looked at 10 top-rated online courses on diversity and inclusion in areas like education, design, and the workplace. Courses can be audited for free or you can pay for a verified certificate. If you want multiple certificates, Coursera offers Coursera Plus, a subscription that gives you access to over 90% of the site’s courses.

Table of Contents

#1. Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace (ESSEC Business School)
#2. Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion (University of Pittsburgh)
#3. Inclusive Leadership: The Power of Workplace Diversity (University of Colorado)
#4. Gender Analytics: Gender Equity Through Inclusive Design (University of Toronto)
#5. Human-Centered Design for Inclusive Innovation (University of Toronto)
#6. Leading for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education (University of Michigan)
#7. An Introduction To Accessibility and Inclusive Design (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
#8. Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems of Support (University of Cape Town)
#9. Teaching Children with Visual Impairment: Creating Empowering Classrooms (University Cape Town)
#10. Queering the Schoolhouse: LGBTQ+ Inclusion for Educators (University of Colorado System)

#1. Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace (ESSEC Business School)

The World Economic Forum highlights evidence that more diverse teams lead to a suite of benefits, such as better innovation, better company culture, and improved leadership. This course introduces students to diversity concepts, their own reactions to diversity in the workplace, and how diversity can facilitate improved performance and innovation. Junko Takagi, a teaching professor at the ESSEC Business School, leads the course.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand the paradox of diversity and identify ways to manage discriminating reflexes
  • Understand social categorization and its impact
  • Reflect on the impact of diversity and inclusion practices
  • Identify diversity and inclusion best practices in your professional environment

How you will learn

This self-paced beginner course takes about 8 hours to complete (4 weeks at a 2-hour per week pace) and consists of videos, readings, practice exercises, and quizzes. There are also peer-graded assignments, which are only available if you take the paid tier of the course. To receive a certificate, you must pass the peer-graded assignments and review 3 of your peer’s assignments. At the time of writing, this course had a 4.7/5 average user rating.

#2. Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion (University of Pittsburgh)

The concepts of sex, sexuality, and gender have changed over the years. How do they impact culture and the workplace? This course taught by lecturer Julie Beaulieu (from the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program) and guest lecturer Susan Marine (Assistant Professor and Program Director from Merrimack College) introduces the gender, sexuality, and women’s studies field. Using a range of interdisciplinary concepts, methods, and tools, students will understand and analyze identity’s role in culture and the workplace.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Define key concepts about gender and sexuality
  • Analyze the history and impact of gender theory and sexuality
  • Create inclusive workplaces practices for LGBTQIA people
  • Understand genderism and its impact on society

How you will learn

This beginner course takes four weeks to complete (around 16.5 hours). It includes videos, readings, discussion prompts, quizzes, and peer-graded assignments. To complete the course and earn the certificate (which is only available with the paid tier), you must pass all graded assignments. The peer grading system is structured so everyone must review 3 peers’ assignments. At the time of writing, “Gender and Sexuality” had a 4.7/5 average user rating.

#3. Inclusive Leadership: The Power of Workplace Diversity (University of Colorado System)

In today’s world, diverse and inclusive workplaces are becoming essential. Leaders must understand how to promote diversity and inclusion, so workplaces are a space where all employees – regardless of the differences in their backgrounds – are respected and valued. Designed for aspiring leaders in every type of workplace, this course guides students on developing inclusive cultures. This course is taught by Dr. Brenda J. Allen (Communications Professor Emerita), a retired Chief Diversity Officer and nationally-recognized educator and leader in inclusion, racial equity, and strategic leadership.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Define inclusion and diversity and identify their benefits and behaviors
  • Describe inclusive leadership and its communication behaviors
  • Understand the six signature traits of inclusive leadership and their benefits
  • Describe concepts like microaggressions and micro-affirmations

How you will learn

“Inclusive Leadership” consists of four weeks of study (around 22 hours) with each of the models divided in a series of lessons. Work includes videos, readings, discussion prompts, practice quizzes, and quizzes at the end of each module. Each quiz takes between 45 min – 1 hour to complete. Each one is worth 25% of your grade. You can only access the quizzes and certificate if you paid for the certificate track. At the time of writing, this course had a 4.9/5 average user rating.

#4. Gender Analytics: Gender Equity through Inclusive Design (University of Toronto)

This is a 5-course specialization in Gender Analytics, which is a methodology that creates opportunities in business and policy through gender-based insights. It’s based on the understanding that diversity and inclusion aren’t issues limited to HR; they affect products, policies, services, and more. The five courses are Gender Analytics for Innovation; Inclusive Analytic Techniques; Human-Centered Design for Inclusive Innovation; Transformational Leadership for Inclusive Innovation; and the Gender Analytics Capstone Project. The main instructor is Sarah Kaplan, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand concepts like sex, gender, gender identity, and intersectionality
  • Outline qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques that explore intersectional gender-based insights
  • Analyze how policies, products, services, and processes lead to gendered outcomes
  • Apply human-centered design for innovation

How you will learn

The courses in the Gender Analytics Specialization vary in length. As an example, the Gender Analytics for Innovation course takes 4 weeks or about 8.5 hours total. Coursework includes videos, readings, practice exercises, and assessment quizzes. The last course – the capstone – is open for students who have completed the first four courses in the specialization. You can audit courses 1-4 or pay for Coursera. If you subscribe, you get unlimited access to all the Specialization courses (you don’t need to pay for each course individually) and receive a certificate when you complete the courses. At the time of writing, the Specialization had a 4.8/5 average user rating.

#5. Human-Centered Design for Inclusive Innovation (University of Toronto)

Human-centered design (which is also called “design thinking”) is essential for developing innovative and inclusive products, services, policies, and processes. This course teaches key practices and skills, as well as how to co-create with diverse stakeholders and come up with innovative solutions. This course is part of the Gender Analytics Specialization, but it’s valuable on its own, too. Sarah Kaplan (Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto), Nika Stelman (Chief of Staff at BenchSci), and Mark Leung (Former Director of the Business Design Lab) teach the course.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand the key principles of human-centered design
  • Describe and apply empathy-based research
  • Apply an intersectional gender view to the ideate, prototype, and test process

How you will learn

This 4-week beginner class takes about 13 hours to complete. Coursework focuses on videos, readings, discussion prompts, and quizzes. There are four graded assignment quizzes each worth 25% of your grade. You will need to pay for the certificate track to access graded materials. At the time of writing, this course had a 4.9/5 average user rating.

#6. Leading for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education (University of Michigan)

This course posits that leadership can be taught and that it’s not something people are simply born with or without. If taught well, most people have strengths and skills they can develop into a leadership approach and philosophy. This course focuses on how leadership in higher education can foster equity, diversity, and inclusion. It’s taught by Dr. John C. Burkhardt, a professor of Clinical Practice and Special Assistant to the Provost for University Engagement at the University of Michigan.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand a leader’s role in forming group identities and leading groups with different identities
  • Explain how leaders can recognize and use arguments about diversity in higher education
  • Analyze a strategic diversity plan and identify how effective it is at a selected post-secondary institution
  • Reflect on how leaders can identify more opportunities for transformative change and recommend innovations

How you will learn

This intermediate 5-week course takes about 17 hours to complete. Coursework includes videos, readings, discussion prompts, and different types of quizzes, such as a discussion participation and map labeling activity. There’s also a peer-graded aspect (worth 40% of your grade) where you submit your own assignment and review 3 peers’ assignments. It appears that you can access all the course materials on the audit track, but you will need to pay if you want the certificate. At the time of writing, the course had a 4.7/5 average user rating.

#7. An Introduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design (University of Illinois)

This course introduces major types of disabilities (cognitive, motor, visual, hearing) and principles of accessibility. For design to be inclusive, designers must understand disability, adaptive strategies, and assistive technology. Students will learn about disability etiquette, universal design, and accessibility in settings like the workplace and higher education. The class is taught by Marc Thompson (Assistant Director for Teaching & Learning Experiences at the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning); Lori Lane (IT Accessibility Specialist in Universal Design); and Tania Heap (Director of Learning Research & Accessibility).

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Identify the legal landscape for people with disabilities
  • Apply the seven basic universal design principles, principles of Universal Design for Learning, and POUR principles
  • Understand accessible digital materials and accessibility considerations to formats like PDF, PowerPoint, multimedia, and more

How you will learn

This beginner-level course is divided into 5 weeks (about 15 hours total). Coursework focuses on videos, readings, practice quizzes, discussion prompts, and graded quizzes. Modules 2-5 end with quizzes (the first module is an orientation). There are also peer-reviewed assignments and an optional honors assignment. To access the graded materials and earn a certificate, you’ll need to pay for the course. At the time of writing, it had a 4.8/5 average user rating.

#8. Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems of Support (University of Cape Town)

Millions of children cannot fully participate in school. It’s even worse for children with disabilities. This course covers how to support children with disabilities- including learning, visual, and intellectual disabilities. Students will explore the classroom strategies, activities, and other tools that lead to systems of support. When teachers are empowered, it’s possible to achieve inclusive education. Judith McKenzie, Associate Professor in the Disability Studies Division, teaches the course.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand disability as social justice
  • Describe what support educators need for disability inclusion
  • Identify the systemic support teachers have within the education system
  • Outline the principles and approaches that support learners with disabilities
  • Understand and apply universal design for learning

How you will learn

This 5-week beginner course (which takes about 14 hours to complete) focuses on videos, readings, podcasts, discussion prompts, practice quizzes, and quizzes. There are also peer-reviewed assignments, which require you to submit an assignment and review the assignments of three fellow students. One of the peer-reviewed assignments is an optional honors assignment. At the time of writing, the course had a 4.8/5 average user rating.

#9. Teaching Children with Visual Impairment: Creating Empowering Classrooms (University of Cape Town)

Visual impairment keeps many students away from their peers, but there’s a push for inclusive neighborhood schools. For inclusion to be successful, teachers and others need skills and insights into visual impairment, different eye conditions, and how these impact learning and behavior differently. This course examines the Expanded Core Curriculum, which can be integrated to give visually-impaired students access to what sighted learners can see. It also explores ways to make a classroom, teaching style, and assessments accessible. Brian Watermeyer of the Faculty of Health Sciences teaches the course.

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Understand the impact of excluding visually-impaired students
  • Identify ways to integrate Expanded Core Curriculum into the classroom
  • Identify appropriate teaching techniques, assessment methods, and assistive technology
  • Identify how to work with others on improving education for kids with visual impairments

How you will learn

This 4-week beginner course takes about 14 hours to complete. Coursework includes videos, readings, discussion prompts, and peer-reviewed assignments. You will need to review three of your peers’ assignments as part of this content. There is an optional honors distinction quiz. At the time of writing, this course had a 4.8/5 average user rating.

#10. Queering the Schoolhouse: LGBTQ+ Inclusion for Educators (University of Colorado System)

This course teaches the history of LGBTQ+ issues in education, how to develop strategies for inclusive learning environments, and how to integrate effective techniques. It isn’t just about building inclusion for students; this course also considers teachers and community members. The instructors are Jacob McWilliams (Director of the Gender & Sexuality Center of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus); Suraj Uttamchanani (Ph.D. Candidate at Indiana University); and Daryl Boyd (Masters Student at the School of Education, University of Colorado).

What you will learn (excerpt)

  • Describe currently accepted terminology and best/promising practices in LGBTQ+ inclusion
  • Evaluate how effective LGBTQ+ practices are in your learning context
  • Recognize and apply evaluation strategies for curricular materials
  • Discuss changes with colleagues, parents, students, and others

How you will learn

This 6-week beginner course takes about 12 hours to complete. It consists of readings, videos, and quizzes. There are five 30-minute quizzes each worth 20% of your grade. To access graded materials, you’ll need to pay for the certificate track. At the time of writing, the course had a 4.7/5 average user rating.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.