Universities in Times of Crisis: Conversations across Differences

The role of post-secondary institutions has always been fundamental to embracing differences, but how they, as universities, are implicated in contentious and tense public debates has shifted over the recent years. This shift contributes to divisiveness and heightened expectations, impacting institutional capacity to create safer spaces and raises important questions around accountability.

Public Talks, Roundtables and Forums, Facilitated Dialogues, and Workshops and Skills Building

To address the role of post-secondary institutions, including the U of A, in crises and societal transformation, the Office of the Provost is introducing the series "Universities in Times of Crisis: Conversations across Differences.” Spanning 12 months, the series will consist of roundtable forums with local and external experts, facilitated dialogues among the University of Alberta community, and instructor-led workshops covering topics like trauma-informed teaching and conflict resolution. These activities aim to enhance skills and build capacity within the U of A community, fostering spaces of care, courage, and resilience.

The series will explore what a university looks like that prioritizes hard conversations and how those hard conversations remain respectful of different experiences, positions, duties, and capacities. It will also raise questions on the role of post-secondary institutions and its citizens in times of crisis, and what these moments can teach us about how to be together in an ongoing way:

  • What is the role of a University and its citizens in times of crisis and what can these moments teach us about how to be together in an ongoing way?
  • What does a University look and feel like that prioritizes hard conversations?
  • How do we have hard conversations that remain respectful of different experiences, positions, duties, and capacities?
  • How do we learn to listen to what we don’t want to hear or what we’ve heard so many times before?
  • How do we cultivate critical thinking and compassion in equal measure?
  • How do we learn to hold space for the tensions arising from multiple competing viewpoints while honouring the human impacts of individual experience at the heart of each?
  • How do we do so courageously, collaboratively, cooperating across differences, and in a way that allows us to strengthen existing relations and build new ones?
  • Who encompasses the “we”?
  • Where must we draw the line?
2024 Schedule forthcoming. Watch for announcements in the EDI Newsletter and digests.