Presidential Task Force Mandate
The mandate of the Presidential Task Force on EDIA is to undertake consultative and collaborative engagements with the University of Calgary’s (UCalgary) representative bodies and wider university communities, conduct internal and external research and analyze qualitative and quantitative EDI data and relevant materials in order to co-constitute and make recommendations to the president for adoption, an institutional EDIA strategy, action and implementation plan, and relevant systems and processes for monitoring progress, impact and reporting.
The PTF-EDIA will be guided by some core principles and practices and pursue a whole-system SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results) approach.
Terms of Reference (forthcoming)
Principles and Practices
The relationship among the members of the task force, and the engagement with the broader communities, will be guided by key principles and practices with the aim of modelling respectful engagement and the institutional commitment to equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible change.
A foundational principle for the removal of barriers to equitable participation in all aspects of university life by people living with diverse visual, motor, auditory, learning, and cognitive abilities. It requires designing environments, programs, services, and products from the outset so they are accessible to people living with various abilities. Accessibility is grounded in the recognition that what constitutes a disability barrier varies across visible and invisible disabilities. As an approach, it enables equitable access to, and success within, the university for persons living with disabilities, as well as for low-income people, and for first generation students. As an ameliorative measure it requires proactive assessments, resources, and the adoption of concrete measures to identify and remove visible and invisible barriers that impede the access to full participation of students, staff, faculty, and administrators in all aspects of university life. Reasonable accommodation ensures access to, and success within, the university, and is enabled by providing the resources and tools necessary to reduce isolation, eliminate obstacles and stigma, and combat discrimination that impede equitable opportunities for persons with disabilities. Accessibility also recognizes that low income can be an obstacle to university attendance and completion, and to faculty and staff advancement (Smith et al., 2021).
Diversity, difference, or variety is a characteristic of nature, human society, and the academic world. Efforts to increase representational or numerical diversity are enabled by the institutional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Fundamental to education and employment equity is the cultivation of an institutional environment in which those who have been historically disadvantaged, and are currently under-represented, can gain access to, and flourish within, the university. Representational diversity is an outcome of proactive measures to correct systemic disadvantage, and to create equitable opportunity structures and pathways for a critical mass of those who are historically disadvantaged and under-represented. In the university, diversity may also refer to philosophical or perspectival differences, institutional types, disciplinary fields, ways of knowing, theoretical and methodological variations, as well as the roles and ranks of students, staff, faculty, administrators, senior leadership, and alumni. Identity-diversity shapes, and is shaped by, voice, representation, experiences in the workplace, in the research and teaching ecosystems, international experiences, and service and community engagement (Smith et al., 2021).
Equity is a foundational value that underwrites the institutional actions to ensure the fair treatment of all members of the university community. As a principle, condition, process, and outcome, equity is rooted in human rights and the inviolability of human dignity. It is integral to the legal principle of justice, and the ethical principle and practice of fairness. As a practice, it requires identifying patterns of inequities and making changes to systems, cultures, and processes that obstruct members of the university community from achieving their full potential. It underwrites proactive efforts to cultivate a research, teaching, learning, and working environment in which people of diverse identities, backgrounds, knowledge systems, and ways of knowing can flourish. As a remedy based on human and legal rights, equity enables proactive measures and reasonable accommodation necessary to: identify structural, systemic and cultural barriers; ameliorate discrimination, unfairness, and disadvantage; and ensure equitable pathways and opportunity structures for women, Indigenous peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S+ in all spheres of academic life (Smith et al., 2021).
Encompasses norms, practices, and intentional actions to promote participation, engagement, empowerment, and a sense of belonging for members of equity-deserving groups who are underrepresented and historically disadvantaged in university life. Inclusion is a mindset and skillset necessary for the cultivation and promotion of an institutional culture and set of practices to ensure all members of the campus community can experience it as welcoming, and as a space of fairness, dignity, and human flourishing. Where diversity may focus on the quantitative representation, inclusion focuses on the qualitative experience of belonging. Where diversity may exist with inequity, isolation, and marginality, social inclusion focuses on culture, and practices that deepen participation and engagement. Inclusion requires institutions to design spaces of leadership and governance, teaching and learning, research, scholarship and artistic inquiry, and community engagement so that there are no impediments to full participation by women, visible/racialized minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S+. Inclusion requires proactive measures to transform cultures and relations of power and privilege that may result in the social exclusion and underrepresentation of equity-deserving groups (Smith et al., 2021).
The individual and institutional pursuit of excellence, quality, or merit is best achieved in equitable, diverse, inclusive, and decolonial conditions in which everyone can thrive. While the human pursuit of excellence is an inclusive one, how it is socially and institutionally defined, operationalized, and recognized historically has often been exclusionary of, among other things, diverse ways of knowing, knowledge, methodologies, and perspectives. Recognizing the integral relationship between equity as fairness and inclusive excellence is necessary to mitigate how access to and success within scholarly associations, universities, and colleges have been shaped by histories of discriminatory ideas, attitudes, processes, and practices. Inclusive excellence affirms how diversity can deepen learning, enhance critical thinking and problem solving, and fuel creativity and innovation in teaching and learning, research and artistic enquiry, professional service, and community engagement in academia (Smith et al., 2021).
An analytical lens which examines how institutions, social power, and opportunity structures shape, and are shaped by, privilege and disadvantage and have a compounding impact on social identities at the intersections of, for example, race, gender, ability, sexuality, and class. “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes [from] and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.” (Crenshaw, 1989; Crenshaw, 2017).
"Pluralism means recognizing, valuing and respecting our differences. In a society that embraces pluralism, differences are not seen as threatening. They present opportunities to learn from one another, and enrich our lives and communities with new perspectives and ideas. In a pluralistic society, membership is determined by institutions and practices, not by one's appearance, beliefs or place of birth. And every person is free to express the different identities that contribute to their uniqueness. Everyone belongs.
Pluralism is not just desirable. It is vital to securing peace and prosperity for future generations. Yet, living with diversity is a challenging process. Compromises and accommodations are required: pluralism is always a work in progress. The Global Centre for Pluralism's Pluralism Lens helps us understand the factors that "drive" inclusion and exclusion in diverse societies. Each driver is a site of decision, where societies can either choose to pursue greater pluralism or define a path toward escalating exclusion." (Global Centre for Pluralism)
Key EDIA Questions to Start
Taking stock: Where are we?
- What is the current institutional landscape at UCalgary?
- What has changed, remained the same, or witnessed reversals from 1989 to now?
- How can we ignite and sustain momentum for change?
Future-focused: Where are we going?
- What institutional practices, policies, procedures and strategies are in place or need to be in place to advance and embed the institutional commitment to EDIA?
- What internal and external imperatives are driving change (or statis)?
Mapping the journey: How will we get there?
- What have previous climate and engagement assessments told us about UCalgary?
Our data and metrics: How will we know if we are getting there?
- What sources of data and metrics exist or need to be developed to sustain change?
The difference: How will it be more equitable and inclusive?
- What annual monitoring and reporting requirements are needed to ensure accountability and progress?
Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results (SOAR) Analysis
The PTF-EDIA will draw upon a SOAR strengths-based analysis and approach and the “4-Is” of inquiry, imagination, innovation and inspiration to build and embed EDIA strategic capacity and capabilities. The SOAR Analysis Analytical tool asks questions to guide strategic directions.
Co-Constituting an Inspiring, Strong, Evidence-Based EDIA Strategy
The PTF-EDIA’s strategic directions build upon and extend institutional commitments to equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in all spheres of the academy.
- Culture and climate
- Systems, policies and processes
- Campus experience
- Campus learning, work and living