Feb. 14, 2024

University of Calgary invites community members to shape future of EDIA on campus

Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility gears up for meaningful community engagement
A group of colourful figures in a circle in front of an orange background
To have your voice heard, visit the PTF-EDIA engagement page for more information about each event and to register.

This month, the University of Calgary’s Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (PTF-EDIA) is launching a series of community engagement activities to support the development of its inaugural EDIA strategy and action plan. During the months of February to April, the PTF-EDIA invites UCalgary’s campus community to provide their input on EDIA through a variety of activities and venues. The goal of this engagement is to allow UCalgary community members to become involved and help shape the development of the university’s EDIA strategy and action plan. 

Co-chaired by Dr. Malinda Smith, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (equity, diversity and inclusion), and Dr. Penny Werthner, interim provost and vice-president (academic), the PTF-EDIA is unique in its approach to analysis, engagement, and research.

"As a task force, we are committed to an engagement approach shaped by our principles, which requires a listening-first approach,” says Smith. “We heard from EDIA experts at UCalgary, including UCalgary strategy leads, and from EDIA strategy leaders from across Canada that following the journey is important.” 

She says, “By harnessing the power of academic and research innovation that are hallmarks of our institution, along with meaningful community engagement, UCalgary can develop a strategic approach to EDIA that is inspiring, research-informed, evidence-based, achievable, and community centred.” 

According to Smith, each phase of the PTF-EDIA’s process has been intentionally designed through careful consultation with diverse communities to ensure academic, research, and community are thoroughly represented. 

The engagement period will include a wide range of activities for campus community members to participate, beginning with: 

  • Conversations on EDIA, organized by roles: Management and professional staff, AUPE staff, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and sessionals, graduate students, and undergraduate students, hosted by the PTF-EDIA. Sessions will invite participants to draw on their experiences and share ideas on key questions to shape EDIA at UCalgary. The conversations will take place in-person for all groups on Feb. 26 and 27, and for those wishing to attend virtually, on Feb. 29 and Mar. 1. 
  • Online focus groups with members of equity-deserving groups (women, racialized/visible minority persons, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and intersections) and international students. These groups will be hosted during the week of March 11 to 15 by EDIA-trained external consultants to foster welcome, inclusive spaces for a discussion of equity issues within specific communities. 

In mid-March, the UCalgary community can also take part in the University’s first-ever campus-wide EDIA survey, in which campus members can anonymously share responses to questions about EDIA-related experiences, opportunities, and aspirations at UCalgary and that data will inform the EDIA strategic plan and action plan.

"We’re calling on our UCalgary community to take part in these conversations,” says Werthner. “Building a more inclusive future begins by developing and sustaining trust, and we will be working to foster spaces where members of our campus community can share their experiences and ideas openly.” 

Please visit the PTF-EDIA engagement page to register for Conversations on EDIA and online focus groups.

About the PTF-EDIA and the journey of developing an EDIA strategy

Launched in 2023, the PTF-EDIA aims to advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility at UCalgary by developing and implementing an EDIA strategy, action and implementation plan that prioritizes the principle of "Nothing about us without us” and nuanced actions over a one-size-fits-all approach. Distinctive in its approach to strategy development, the task force combines a strengths, opportunities, aspirations (SOAR) framework with UCalgary’s internal data, external data, consultations and best practices (IECB) framework in the development of its strategy and action plan. With the Ahead of Tomorrow’s commitment to community being at the centre of everything we do at the UCalgary, the IECB process ensures that community voices and input will shape UCalgary’s strategic vision and direction for EDIA.

"Creating an equitable campus is more than just a sentiment for us at the University of Calgary. It is a force that drives our work in community building and future planning,” says UCalgary President Ed McCauley. “It’s vital that we encourage all voices within our community to engage, contribute and help us shape a campus that truly reflects the rich diversity of our society. Together, we will foster an inclusive environment where everyone can succeed and thrive.”

During its first year, the PTF-EDIA conducted an internal scan of the current state of EDIA at UCalgary to determine the university’s strengths and areas for growth. The second phase consisted of an external scan of EDIA trends and best practices across U15, a group of Canadian research universities of which UCalgary is a member. Select American post-secondaries were also analyzed to provide a robust and detailed picture of how other institutions strategically approach equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. 

To maintain its connection to the greater UCalgary community throughout its many phases, the PTF-EDIA is inclusive of the university’s representative bodies. By inviting expertise from five working groups, the task force brings an informed lens to embedding EDIA across key areas of institutional focus: research and scholarship, teaching and learning, EDIA data and strategy, people strategy and experiences, and EDI and community engagement. The task force’s founding principle of "Nothing about us without us” governs all stages of the journey including engagement activities.

The current stage of IEBC strategic development process involves meaningful engagement with UCalgary’s students, postdocs, sessional instructors, faculty members, alumni, staff, and leadership, with particular focus on the experiences and input of members of equity-deserving groups

Once the engagement phase has been completed, the task force will disseminate a What We Heard report to the UCalgary community alongside outreach on the draft strategy. Another round of community engagement will take place upon the completion of the proposed EDIA strategy ahead of governance approvals in the fall of 2024.

To have your voice heard, visit the PTF-EDIA engagement page for more information about each event and to register. To learn more about UCalgary’s EDIA strategy development, visit the PTF-EDIA progress page.

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