‘Webinettes’ explore principles of equity, diversity and inclusion

Short online webinars are tools for advancing the university’s strategic EDI goals.

Online meeting between two individuals

When Everett Igobwa took on the role of lead educational developer of Critical Pedagogies and Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Teaching and Learning in early 2022, he was given the difficult task of advancing the university’s Strategic Plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity with regard to teaching and instruction. How could he work toward his objective while building a portfolio of resources to aid him in his work

Igobwa decided to organize short webinars — webinettes — to expand on each of the eight principles in the strategic plan as part of CTL’s already ongoing pedagogical programming. 

The goal of the strategic plan for EDI is to achieve a more diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive environment for all who work, learn and live within the university community. To lead faculty and instructors toward that goal, Igobwa regularly gives talks and assists with course design or redesign. 

Each webinette results in an approximately 15-minute video that Igobwa can then share with his audience beforehand — allowing them to quickly absorb each of the eight principles and allowing him to make the most of their shared time.

Igobwa started working on the webinette series in February of 2022 and has completed the first six: equity, diversity, inclusion, respect for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, accessibility, and equality-substantive.

Two more webinettes, on human rights and intersectionality, are yet to take place. The human rights webinette debuted Jan. 25, with Evelyn Hamdon, senior adviser on equity and human rights in the Office of the Provost, as a special guest. Igobwa plans to hold the final webinette on intersectionality in February, which will bring the year-long series to a close.

“What I really find powerful is we front-end [the webinettes] with concepts and then we open it up to faculty, educators or those involved in learning and teaching to actually speak back to what we are talking about or share their experiences on the things that we are doing,” says Igobwa.

While he did the first three webinettes on equity, diversity and inclusion by himself, the others have all featured special guests. 

“I’m not the EDI guru,” says Igobwa. “I’m really trying to demonstrate that when it comes to EDI work, we need to do it together.”

Andrea Menard, lead education developer for Indigenizing curricula and pedagogies at CTL, co-hosted the webinette on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, while Joanne Weber, Canada Research Council Chair in Deaf Education, gave a presentation on the deaf aesthetic as part of the accessibility video.

The most recent video, “Equality-Substantive,” features Donald Mason, director of the English Language School, discussing the disadvantages that international students face when they first arrive at the university.

“Substantive equality looks at ways to support students in a good way,” says Igobwa. “It’s identifying what the students need and then putting things in place to support them. Donald Mason and the Faculty of Education have courses that they’re developing for international students. They are looking for gaps and looking for ways to support these students pedagogically, in a good way, so that they are successful in the course.”

Throughout the videos, Igobwa uses the phrase “In a good way,” which comes from his work with Inuit communities.

“When I was in Nunavut, the Inuit have eight principles, that they call IQ [Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit] Principles, that guide them,” says Igobwa, explaining that doing something in a good way means following those principles. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangi means Inuit Traditional Knowledge, and the principles include “fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming and inclusive” and “decision making through discussion and consensus.”

Igobwa already has ideas for many more videos to come, including talks on critical pedagogy, the Scarborough Charter, critical race theory, whiteness and privilege, unconscious bias, discrimination, anti-oppressive practice and decolonization.

“[The eight principles are] a good starting point, but EDI moves very, very quickly,” says Igobwa. “It’s ever-changing and these are the difficult conversations that we need to prepare ourselves to start having, and in a good way.”

About Chelsea

Chelsea Novak is a PR/publications assistant with VER Strategic Communications and an assistant lecturer in the department of English and Film Studies. She teaches creative writing in fiction and non-fiction, and is assisting on a research project in the Creative Writing Program. Her work has appeared in Edify, Geist and Room.