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Academic explorations of diversity

On April 27, Concordia's Beyond Disciplines series closes its first season by spotlighting a timely topic at universities
April 22, 2016
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By Elisabeth Faure

Re-shaping Diversity

What is the future of diversity and how will it influence scholarly research?

The Beyond Disciplines event series is closing a successful inaugural term with a look at this crucial question. “Re-Shaping Diversity: The Future of Diversity, in the University, and Beyond” takes place on Concordia's Loyola Campus on Wednesday, April 27. 

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) organized Beyond Disciplines to highlight interdisciplinary dialogue across its 27 departments.

“I’m very excited by the theme we’ve chosen for this final event,” says Kim Sawchuk, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies.  

“These days, universities are looking more and more at topics related to diversity, be it critical disability studies or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues. A university like Concordia, committed to social justice and institutional change, can lead a discussion on what philosopher Sara Ahmed calls ‘diversity work.’”

The event will shine a light on graduate research, with presentations from five student winners of the Ethnic Studies and Social Diversity Fellowship awards, given out this year for the first time.

The students were nominated by faculty members based on their work in areas such as post-colonialism, race and racism, ethnic and inter-ethnic relations, intercultural communications, religion and social diversity, and studies of gender and sexuality.

The students will be joined by FAS faculty members who either sat on the awards committee or whose research focuses on diversity.

They are Antoine Bilodeau, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, Kimberley Manning, principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Daniel Salée, professor in the School of Community and Public Affairs, and Vivek Venkatesh, associate professor in the Department of Education.

Venkatesh, whose research includes developing digital media applications to sensitize and prevent online hate speech, says he was delighted to receive an invitation to participate in the final Beyond Disciplines event of the term.

“Diversity of opinions and ensuring that we can create democratic public spaces for healthy debates is a very important issue, and it’s one I encourage all my students to consider in their research.”

André Roy, dean of the FAS, says he’s pleased so many students are participating. “Student engagement is at the heart of what we do as a faculty, and the research being done by our graduate students is first-rate.”

So far, the series has covered topics as diverse as biomedical ethics and gene editing, and the role of storytelling in research. Topics slated for next year include online learning, Indigenous culture in Canada and around the world, and the role of art in research.

“The idea we had when we first conceived of the series was to embrace experimentation in the context of a diversity of themes that matter to society,” says Roy. “We will never tie ourselves to one kind of format, which allows us endless possibilities in terms of where we can take these events.”

The events alternate between Concordia’s Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses. “For us, it only makes sense to switch back and forth, since our faculty is producing great work right across the city,” he says.

Venkatesh is looking forward to hearing about the graduate students’ diversity-related research, and talking about the issues that will be raised. “I think it’s going to be a great discussion for all the speakers, and the audience as well.”

 

“Re-Shaping Diversity: The Future of Diversity, in the University, and Beyond,” the final Beyond Disciplines event of 2015-16, takes place on Wednesday, April 27, at 5 p.m. in Room GE-110, Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics (7141 Sherbrooke St. W.), Loyola Campus. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

Daycare and sign-language translation are available upon request (please request at least 48 hours in advance).

Reception to follow. The event is free and open to the public. Please reserve your spot by emailing RSVP.fas@concordia.ca.

 



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