Strategic Plan for EDI

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Strategic Plan for EDI

This strategic plan aims to embed EDI into the culture of the University of Alberta community, from the grassroots to the senior-most levels.

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The strategic plan sets out strategic directions and senior-level accountabilities to empower faculties, departments, and administrative units to develop and implement their own Equity, Diversity and Inclusion plans and initiatives.

It includes proposed structures and approaches with desired outcomes to support efforts across our community as we seek to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

This isn't a top-down plan; to achieve our goals, every member of the University of Alberta has a role to play. 

To weave Equity, Diversity and Inclusion into the fabric of our culture, we must:

  • Develop plans and initiatives at the local level
  • Take deliberate action informed by the best available evidence and institutional data

Working together, we can ensure Equity, Diversity and Inclusion thrives in our community and enriches the lives of all.

Our Vision

The U of A is committed to cultivating an institutional culture that values, supports, and promotes equity, human rights, respect, and accountability among faculty, staff, and students. In our inclusive community, we encourage and support individual and collaborative efforts to identify and address inequities, and we welcome and enable contributions of all voices as we engage with diverse ideas, knowledge, and perspectives in the pursuit of inclusive excellence for the public good.

Our Mission

The University of Alberta will work to achieve an accessible, equitable, and inclusive community of students, faculty, and staff that supports our learning environment shaped by curiosity, rigorous inquiry, and evidence-based decision making, respect, and a culture of human rights.

Our Commitment

We are committed to achieving equitable access and opportunities in admissions, employment, retention, and advancement; and to a working, learning, and living environment free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment. It is only through such a commitment that the University of Alberta can reach our larger vision of being a space that actively fosters intellectual curiosity, rigorous inquiry, and ingenuity.

We envision and will cultivate a community that recognizes equity and diversity as fundamental to achieving inclusive excellence in learning, teaching, research, service, and community engagement.

We acknowledge this commitment requires identifying and addressing formal and informal obstacles, barriers, and biases that limit equitable access and opportunities, as well as intentionally pursuing and implementing system-wide equity initiatives to embed diversity in all university structures, programs, policies, and practices, as well as in our visual and text identities.

Determined to influence those formal and informal structures and mechanisms that limit access and opportunities, we will use principles of fairness and evidence-based policies and practices to support decision-making; collect and analyze diversity data; establish equity goals, targets, and benchmarks; and develop and implement policies. Recognizing that achieving EDI goals requires responsible and accountable leadership at all levels of the university, we will regularly evaluate and report on progress toward achieving an equitable and inclusive university.

Our Principles

Our principles and actions are underpinned by respect for the dignity, rights, and full participation of all those who live, work, and learn within the university. The university's Strategic Plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is guided by the following principles.


Diversity refers to difference or variety. In a broad societal equity, diversity and Inclusion context, diversity refers to demographic or identity diversity, including that based on the protected grounds. Within universities, diversity encompasses these, as well as difference or variety in education, perspectives, opinions, heuristics, disciplines, faculties, skills, and learning opportunities.

The University of Alberta supports and encourages diversity through the identification and removal of barriers and biases, and the creation of workplaces and learning environments that are free of harassment and discrimination.


Equity is about fairness in access to education and employment and in the opportunity to succeed in these domains. Employment equity principles, policies, and practices enable equitable access, representation, opportunities, and meaningful participation of socially diverse people-from the federally designated and other equity-seeking groups such as women, members of visible minority groups, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S+ people.

We recognize that policies, practices, informal processes, and language created by and for particular groups of people, with a default norm in mind, produce structural barriers that limit access and inclusion for other individuals and groups. Taking equity as a guiding principle means that the university will respect and value the differences of our members by actively identifying and removing barriers, including structural barriers, to ensure that historically excluded groups have the same opportunity to fully flourish at the University of Alberta.


Inclusion means that we value and cultivate full and meaningful engagement of historically and structurally excluded individuals and groups. Inclusion refers to enabling all individuals on our campuses to fully enjoy the opportunities the university has to offer, and to have all equity seeking groups meaningfully represented in all aspects of university life and decision-making roles university wide.

Human Rights

Every person, by virtue of being human, is entitled to certain fundamental rights regardless of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs, gender, gender identity and gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, age, political beliefs, and any other protected ground as amended over time. Each person is entitled to a life of dignity, equality, and respect, free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying.

The university's commitment to human rights is reflected in its policies and practices, as well as the supports it makes available to the members of its community.

Equality - Substantive

The University of Alberta embraces a substantive approach to equality this means that achieving equality is not only a matter of treating likes alike (formal equality), but also requires us to consider and address the range of conditions that create experiences of disadvantage for some individuals and groups. We consider the full context and impacts of our practices and processes, recognizing that these may be experienced differently by different individuals and groups.


An intersectional approach to equity, diversity and Inclusion begins from the understanding that the different vectors of social diversity, (race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, religion, language, age, etc.) do not exist separately or in isolation from each other. Instead, the various vectors of social diversity are interwoven and affect each other.

Intersectionality focuses on how multiple, interwoven vectors shape social belonging, cultural representations, social and political institutions, as well as the material conditions of our lives in ways that are not reducible to any singular vector or social category.

Initially developed by women of colour seeking to understand how their existence and experiences of marginalization could not be reduced to gender or racial categorization alone, today we understand that everyone's life is shaped by intersecting social categories.

Intersecting social categories play a role in exclusion and shape social, political, and material marginalization and dominance. Experiences and systems of persistent social inequality cannot be understood without an intersectional framework.


Accessibility refers to the degree to which physical, pedagogical, and administrative structures of the University of Alberta are (re)designed to enable the full, meaningful, and equitable engagement of all of the university's community members.

Accessibility includes, but is much broader than, ramped access to buildings. It also includes, for example, designing for physical, financial, sensory, social, and language-level access. Whereas accommodation refers to making specific changes to support the full participation of an individual who has encountered barriers, an accessible campus is one that seeks pro-actively to reduce as many barriers as possible, while creating efficient and transparent processes for individuals to gain the accommodations they require and are entitled to by law.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Reconciliation refers to a process of building and sustaining respectful, ethical relationships between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada based on mutual understanding and respect.

Universities across Canada have responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action in ways relevant to their institutional context.

The University of Alberta has responded with an emphasis on capacity building and foundational change in support of Indigenous initiatives, programming, and personnel with a vision for making the U of A a welcoming place for Indigenous students, faculty, and staff. The university's equity, diversity and Inclusion initiatives will endeavour to support the principles of the Indigenous strategic plan and prioritize cross collaboration with it.

Our Themes

The U of A's Strategic Plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion identifies themes and benchmarks of excellence, goals, outcomes, and directions to help us achieve our vision. The plan is organized around five core themes.

Vision and Leadership

The university's leadership, communications, and statements about itself reflect a high-level, consistent, and reliably strong commitment to equity, diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Research, Teaching, and Public Service

Research, teaching, and public (academic) service are understood to be implicated in the development of equity, diversity and Inclusion. They are also major functions of the university and areas of work for academic staff. Faculty are encouraged to do, and are recognized for, work that thoughtfully and rigorously incorporates or contributes to equity, diversity and/or Inclusion.

Workforce (all faculty and staff)

The university's commitment to equity, diversity and Inclusion is reflected in recruitment, retention, and advancement of faculty and staff; faculty and staff are prepared to work in a diverse environment and to have the knowledge and skills to contribute to equity and Inclusion.

Students, (Research) Trainees, and Students Life

The university strives to provide equitable access for students and trainees, including post-doctoral fellows, to disciplines of study and scholarly opportunities; to study and disseminate knowledge about equity, diversity and Inclusion; and to provide an environment attentive to, and that addresses, barriers to inclusion, access, and success, (especially of historically excluded groups).


The university strives to create an equitable and inclusive environment and culture for all members of its community.


Overall accountability for this plan resides with the President and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic). On an annual basis, the university will evaluate its progress, report to the community, and update the plan as necessary.

The plan itself contains specific commitments to develop and report on targets and benchmarks and establishes specific expectations and accountabilities for senior-level leaders. These accountabilities will be incorporated into the formal performance evaluations for senior positions, with the expectation that these leaders, in turn, hold their own units accountable for developing and implementing their own strategies to support the EDI goals laid out in this plan.