USC Culture Journey Moving Forward

The Culture Journey is USC’s university-wide initiative to explore our values, align the supportive behaviors that bring those values to life and develop opportunities to improve our systems and processes. Our community is engaged in shaping our culture together.

Join us for USC Culture Events: Living Our Values

The USC Culture Journey continues – and we want you to be a part of it! Learn how our values and actions can positively impact our daily lives and the USC community.

Join us for Culture Events: Living Our Values series starting in February 2021.

  • Speaker series
  • Community panels
  • Lunch and learn sessions
  • Values workshops

View the list of upcoming events, along with registration information.


Our University’s Unifying Values

Since October 2019, over 24,000 Trojans – faculty, staff, students, our governance bodies, Deans, unit leaders – shared their voices and provided feedback on our desired USC values, behaviors, and actions to enhance our culture.

We are very excited to share with everyone our university’s unifying values:

  • Integrity: We do the right thing
  • Excellence: We bring our best selves
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: We all belong
  • Well-being: We honor the whole person
  • Open Communication: We share openly and honestly
  • Accountability: We take responsibility

As Trojans, we will:

Act with integrity in the pursuit of excellence. Embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and promote well-being.  Engage in open communication and be accountable for living our values

Explore our six USC unifying values, high-level behaviors, improvements we’re working on to enhance systems and processes across our university, and what’s coming next.

What’s next?

  • USC-wide culture activities on values, and partnering with our schools and units to offer culture activities and support
  • A reimagined Code of Ethics and Compliance with guidelines that support our values, actions, decisions and policies
  • Focus on unifying values and behaviors to support the planning, development and improvement of our HR processes, systems, and enhanced skills
  • Efforts are already in progress across people development, well-being, DEI and addressing concerns, and other areas of culture focus.

Stay tuned! The journey continues and will support USC’s enhanced culture.


Explore More: The USC Culture Journey Overview

  • In October 2019, over 20,000 Trojans participated in the USC Values Poll on our current values and desired values, so we could start the journey to understand what values we wanted to shape our future.
  • From January – April 2020, you shared your voice. More than 4,400 USC staff, faculty and students participated in 175-plus culture sessions (Town Halls and Discussion Sessions) to share their input on values, behaviors and the systems and processes needed to support and improve USC. Approximately 120 culture facilitators and culture advocates — faculty and staff across USC, trained in the Barrett Values model — facilitated these sessions.
  • We continued to hear from you. With the help of our Culture Network, we continued discussion sessions during the pandemic in an online format to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to share their voice. Your input brought us to the eight values most frequently identified by our community as high priority and the changes needed in six key systems and processes.
  • We held:
    • Eight USC-wide Town Halls at UPC and HSC to share high-level poll results.
    • 38 school and unit Town Halls that shared school/unit-specific poll results.
    • 44 USC-wide in-person and virtual Discussion Sessions to gather staff, faculty and student feedback on specific values, behaviors, systems and processes.
    • 79 school and unit Discussion Sessions focused on feedback related to their schools’ and units’ poll results.
    • To view the Town Hall presentations from each school/unit, visit www.cultureintranet.usc.edu.
  • We partnered with our community.
    • In April and May 2020, we met with our governance bodies — Working Group on Culture, Academic Senate, Staff Assembly, Undergraduate Student Government, and Graduate Student Government — to share USC-wide community feedback from the culture sessions.
    • We shared the initial values, behaviors, systems and processes identified in those sessions as “most critical” to our culture change and asked for their input to continue refining these into recommended values and actions.
  • From June to August 2020, we held 33 Leader Debriefs with all our deans and unit leaders and their leadership teams in 22 schools and 13 administrative units to share their specific school’s or unit’s community feedback from the Culture Sessions. We asked for their perspectives on USC-wide values, behaviors and recommended actions (systems and processes). And we have shared a variety of options on culture activities and initiatives on which we can partner with schools and units to involve their communities in the culture transformation. Check out the original eight values and six recommended actions in this report.

President Folt’s welcome to USC Culture Sessions attendees

In this video, President Folt introduces the USC Culture Journey to all culture session attendees – Town Halls and Discussion Sessions.


Want to know more?

Download the FAQ about the Culture Journey, Values Poll and Culture Conversations.

Download the Values Poll Fact sheet.

Download the Culture Network Fact sheet.

Interested in USC’s Culture Journey or becoming a partner for culture change? Email us at: partnerforculturechange@usc.edu


Media coverage on the Culture Journey

Faculty, Staff and Students Chart USC’s Future Through ‘Culture Journey’ (Trojan Family Magazine, Spring 2020)

USC’s Culture Commission is following up the Cultural Values poll with campus-wide discussions (USC Annenberg Media, February 18, 2020)

Annenberg Values Poll town hall prompts conversations about culture values (USC Annenberg Media, February 18, 2020)

From Where We Are: Dornsife reacts to USC’s Cultural Values Poll, new study shows how vaping affects human genome and why we need minority voices in journalism (USC Annenberg Media, February 13, 2020)

Dornsife hosts values town hall (Daily Trojan, February 14, 2020)

USC Dornsife has mixed thoughts on culture values poll results (USC Annenberg Media, February 13, 2020)

USC holds penultimate values town hall meeting (USC Annenberg Media, February 3, 2020)

University pilots culture sessions (Daily Trojan, January 22, 2020)

In wake of scandals, USC radically cuts number of trustees, imposes age limits, pledges more diversity (Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2019)

The USC Values Poll is a promising start but not the finish line (Daily Trojan, October 21, 2019)

Interim president establishes culture commission (Daily Trojan, November 14, 2018)