Education begins with respect

A year after opening a dialogue on diversity and respect, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association's Gender, Equity and Diversity Caucus is looking to build upon that momentum with the 2nd Annual Respect & Diversity Awareness Week.

Running Mar. 5-9 at the University, this year's theme for the weeklong conversation is "Respect and learning go hand in hand".

"Last year was great for an inaugural event," says Dr. Carly Adams, Chair of the Gender, Equity and Diversity Caucus. "We thought how it was taken up by the University community was wonderful. It's a conversation that needs to be ongoing."

Events such as a Talking About Teaching panel discussion through the Centre for the Advancement of Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CAETL) spurred the campus community into thinking about how we interact with one another, in classrooms, meeting rooms and even as we walk through the hallways.

"As a faculty member who attended these talks, I thought about the issues raised and then took them into my classroom," says Adams. "I hope that others took the things they heard and tried to adapt new strategies in the ways they dealt with students or fellow faculty."

If anything, the week created an environment where issues of inclusion and respect can be discussed. It also established an awareness of the caucus and took its work to another level. In early February, the caucus played a role in the Discover Diversity conference hosted by the City of Lethbridge and co-sponsored by the University.

"I was really pleased we were able to be a part of that because not only did we have an opportunity to talk about the caucus but also the respect and diversity week and some of the other initiatives we're involved in," says Adams. "It led to an even wider discussion about workplace diversity and respect beyond our campus."

This year's awareness week will feature a few new additions, including an Ignite! event on Wednesday, Mar. 7 at 5 p.m. in the University Library (10th floor). Described as a fun, informative, rapid-fire session, participants are tasked to speak to 20 pictures or slides of their choice, all in a five-minute window of time, as they wax eloquent about diversity and/or gender.

"We're really excited about this event," says Adams. "We have a number of faculty lined up to take part, as well as people from the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG) and the Students' Union. In total it's about 12 to 15 people, and it should create a really lively discussion from all the different perspectives across campus."

The line up of speakers includes Dr. Kevin McGeough (Geography), Yale Belanger (Native American Studies), Dan Johnson (Environmental Science), Carol Williams (Women and Gender Studies), Phil Jones (CAETL/Health Sciences), Marinus Swanepoel (Library), LPRIG, Shelia McManus (History), Rob Sutherland (CCBN/ULFA) and Tanya Harnett (Native American Studies/Fine Arts).

Other events for the week include a film screening of MissRepresentation, a documentary exploring how the media's misrepresentation of women has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. The Gender, Equity, and Diversity Caucus is joining the YWCA, Womanspace, Campus Women's Centre and LPIRG in sponsoring the film screening that takes place Thursday, Mar. 8 at 7 p.m. in Galileo's Gallery and coincides with International Women's Day.

On Friday, Mar. 9, Craig Milner from the Faculty of Management will present Student Diversity Rocks: Developing High Performance Teams in the Classroom (1 p.m., M1040).

"He's discussing diversity in teams, and how we might leverage some of the different experiences of our students in the classroom to create different conversations in groups," says Adams of the one-hour workshop.
While the week concludes with Milner's presentation, the conversation does not, and will be picked up a week later when the Department of Women & Gender Studies, with assistance from Adams' group, will present Why Women and Gender Studies? A Multigenerational Roundtable and Conversation, Friday, Mar. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Students' Union Ballroom.

"Last year, we came away thinking it was a very positive week and worth continuing," says Adams. "We invite everyone to come out for these events and I hope that this will give these important issues even more exposure."

The University of Lethbridge Faculty Association's Gender, Equity and Diversity Caucus consists of: Andrea Amelinckx, Andrea Glover, Dr. Hester Jiskoot, Dr. Kevin McGeough, Dr. Noella Piquette, Dr. John Sheriff, Dr. Robert Sutherland, Jennifer Thannhauser and Dr. Carly Adams (Chair).

This story first appeared in the March 2012 issue of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.