To create a space for the UT community to reflect critically on our research and education systems and practices, that’s the aim of the creators of the UT Incentive Fund-supported initiative ‘Dialogical Spaces for a Diverse University’. In eight online sessions, called dialogues, invited guests and every member of the UT community can add to the discussion on topics regarding diversity and inclusion. The first dialogue starts on Thursday 21 January.
All over the world, universities are struggling with their position in the global discussion on diversity and inclusion. The UT has strongly encouraged programmes and policymakers to increase diversity and inclusion. Efforts are being put in programmes to promote broader representation of diverse backgrounds in terms of gender identity/-expression, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientations, and places of origin, in both the academic staff as well as students.
According to the initiators Fenna Hoefsloot, Dr Ana María Bustamante Duarte, Prof Dr Karin Pfeffer, Dr Javier Martinez and Ioana Miu, the UT can do more to improve institutional inclusion strategies. A university is so much more than just an employer and educator, the main focus of most efforts of universities in the field of diversity and inclusion. “Therefore, it is essential to understand how systemic injustice also influences research, data, and design and identify ways to address this”, argues Hoefsloot.
The dialogical spaces are several of these small steps. “Through these collective discussions, we hope to increase awareness, as well as move towards real action and systemic change regarding diversity and inclusion within the university”, says Bustamante Duarte. All discussions are led by the question “How can we promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of academic practices as part of a strategy to overcome systemic discrimination?”
In the first session, on January 21, Dr Aminata Cairo will open the topic on the search for an inclusive learning and working environment. Cairo is an independent consultant and the former Lector of Inclusive Education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. In her applied anthropological work with students, educators and community organizations she has continually strived to promote inclusion at both the academic and the community level.
Following up, on February 4, Dialogical Spaces will welcome Dr Joz Motmans who will be discussing ‘Non-binary and Trans Rights within the University’. He will share his experience as part of the workgroup on Diversity at UGent which established a trans policy at the university and reflect on the ethics of conducting research with non-binary and trans individuals.
Later, on February 18th, Dr Katta Spiel will present and dialogue on the topic of "Making Norms Exceptional — Non-normative Interaction Design for and with Marginalised Bodies". In this talk, they will critically analyse how bodies are constructed within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design and explore participatory strategies for research and design with people whose bodies are marginalised by technologies.
The initiative ‘Dialogical Spaces for a Diverse University’ (Dialogical Spaces) is supported by the UT Incentive Fund, a fund created and financed by the UT. Originally set up to facilitate female staff development and the promotion of women to address their underrepresentation at the UT, from 2019 its aim has been widened to fund initiatives to encourage innovative, bottom-up ideas valuing and respecting diversity and promoting inclusion at the UT.
More information about the initiative and the Dialogues can be found on their website.