The Office of the Vice-Provost (EDI) launches introductory module on equity, diversity and inclusion

The learning module establishes a shared understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion at the university.

Multicolored abstract wall art photo

The University of Alberta’s vision for EDI — to cultivate an institutional culture that values, supports, promotes and celebrates equity, human rights, respect and accountability among faculty, staff and students — is a journey that requires all of us to be moving in the same direction. To set this foundation, the Office of the Vice-Provost (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) has launched an introductory learning module about equity, diversity and inclusion at the U of A.

The openly available module, the first in a series that will roll out at intervals over the coming academic year, consists of educational materials featuring colleagues at the university who are doing important work in EDI, interspersed with pedagogical and textual information. The result is a truly “made at the U of A” tool that directly addresses the U of A context.

As Senior Advisor Evelyn Hamdon explains, the purpose of the module is to provide foundational information about EDI for all members of the university, regardless of their current knowledge or whether they are in leadership roles, staff, faculty, researchers, teachers or administrators, to enable them to work from the same conceptual framework with the same definitional ideas toward the same goals.

The module was developed with the help of many experts across the institution, including postdoctoral fellow Lisa Tink, who drew from their own EDI journey to imagine how a learner might engage with this content.

As Lisa says, “I tried to draw on my own experiences of working in the area of EDI and how I came to understand what it means (and what it takes) to do genuine, anti-oppressive EDI work.”

The module is intended for a wide audience, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t interesting and potentially new material for people who may already be steeped in this work.

“We've interviewed Canada Research Chairs to talk about equity, diversity and inclusion broadly as well as people doing specific work relating to research or other areas of work at the U of A, ” says Evelyn “So there will be something for people who are perhaps further along in their knowledge and skills and application of EDI.”

Carrie Smith, Vice-Provost (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) knows that EDI work requires a certain amount of unlearning and discomfort, and folks who are starting this journey require support.

“I think of how often people write to us to ask 'what's the right language? What's the wording I should be using? How should I be talking about this?' People are very nervous about getting it wrong.”

However, rather than giving people a checklist of dos and don’ts, the module is intended to provide a supportive foundation for people to reflect on the knowledge they’re coming in with and where they can learn further.

"What we are really hoping for is that people would see this as the beginning of the journey and not the end,” Evelyn says.

A foundation to operationalize EDI work

Last fall Carrie Smith started her role as the first Vice-Provost (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion), a position that was created to further our institutional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and integrate and coordinate EDI efforts across the university.

In Carrie’s words, equity, diversity and inclusion work requires two things at once; central leadership moving it forward, while also radically distributing the leadership by empowering the grassroots. And given that equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-oppression, anti-racism and anti-ableism activism is oriented in pushing against leadership, those two things at once can be really challenging.

“My goal is to embed the activist orientation into our central direction, so that the work and the leadership and the empowerment is in all things.”

That's where the module comes in, setting a foundation that allows people to move away from thinking of EDI work as strategic work, but rather embedded in all things that we do.

“There are many amazing people, some of whom we feature in the module, with deep expertise in research, administration, leadership, service, teaching and pedagogy” says Carrie. “We’re drawing this work together on a foundational level to make it visible and further support work being done in administrative units, colleges and faculties.”

Module 1: Foundations of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is now available in eClass.

More resources are available on the EDI Education and Awareness web page, including a new training video about EDI in the Academic Hiring Process. Learn about bias, how to address it and advance EDI in an academic recruitment context.