Looking back on the 2019 UU Onderwijsparade on Diversity & Inclusion
What is the role of diversity and inclusion in our education? Students, lecturers and staff explored this question during the Onderwijsparade, the annual education day, on the 7th of March. Over 500 participants, 18 workshops, a jam-packed information market, and various pitches and speakers proved to be the perfect recipe for a successful day filled with inspiration.
'Diversity and inclusion are two of Utrecht University’s core values,' opened Rector Magnificus Henk Kummeling. He welcomed visitors to the 2019 Onderwijsparade in the University Hall: 'I am very proud that you have come to reflect on your education and that you would like to improve your teaching skills even further.' On behalf of the Centre for Academic Teaching, which organised the event, Dr Leoniek Wijngaards-de Meij also stressed the importance of an inclusive university. If students, lecturers and staff feel welcome and valued, we can all learn from one another.
Keynote speech on identity and inclusion
In her keynote speech titled Dynamics of identity and inclusion in Higher Education, Prof. Felisa Tibbits stated that the university has a civic role. In other words, the job of a university is to instil norms and values in society. Education plays a major part in this process; for instance, through the messages that lecturers convey. An example is the 'hidden curriculum' that exists alongside the standard programme. Lecturers can communicate unspoken or implicit academic, social and cultural meanings to their students. It is important to create awareness of this dynamic, as it can result in certain issues or people being overlooked. We must be aware of diversity to ensure that everyone feels welcome, both in their education and at the university as a whole.
Inclusion is a choice
ECHO Award winner and medical student Avin Ghedri shared the story of how she spent nine years living in asylum seekers' centres as a refugee from Iraq. With a critical yet gentle and inspiring tone, Avin described how she did not feel at home in Dutch society. Even today, while studying at UU, she still encounters habits that cause her to feel excluded. She argued for these habits to be changed. 'Diversity is a fact, because people are diverse. Inclusion is a choice, because you can include people just by changing small habits. Instead of asking someone whether they would like a beer, for example, ask whether they would like something to drink.' Avin concluded by calling on the UU community to make everyone feel at home: 'As a lecturer, be the wind beneath your students' wings. As a student, be the wind beneath the wings of your fellow students.'
Highlights from the workshops
One of the 20 workshops was about 'Design Patterns'. U-Talent Computer Science lecturer Christian Köppe and Physics outreach coordinator Anne Bartilla explained how design patterns are being used to increase diversity within education. These patterns describe solution templates for a problem in a specific context and can be applied to a variety of disciplines. The workshop covered patterns that have been identified in successful projects on gender diversity in computer science education. Participants also worked on translating the design patterns to fit their context and objectives.
Another workshop saw participants play the game All Inclusive by Morals at Work. In this question-and-answer game, employees initiate a safe and accessible discussion on intentional and unintentional discrimination. Led by Caspar de Bok, the participants discovered how they react in situations relating to exclusion. All Inclusive is now available for all UU staff through their faculty so they can gain insight into how to improve their interactions with colleagues.
At the information market, visitors had the opportunity to learn about a range of initiatives in the field of education. Those with a stand at the market included the UU Diversity Task Force, volunteer organisation Taal Doet Meer and regional partnership U-Talent. In addition, various works of art made by students were on display throughout the University Hall. The Work in Progress: who tells my story? exhibition showcases students' experiences with diversity and inclusion.
Winners of Outstanding Teacher Awards announced
For the 2018-2019 academic year, students nominated a record total of 37 lecturers for the Lecturer Awards. In the spirit of inclusion, jury chair Prof. Ruud Schotting introduced this year's candidates in English. The winners of the Lecturer Award and the Young Lecturer Award were announced in a pair of exciting film clips. UU Lecturer of the Year Niels Bovenschen (Biomedical Sciences) and Teacher Talent Marij Swinkels (Public Administration and Organisation Science) will receive their awards during the Dies Natalis celebrations.
Looking back on a day rich in diversity
When the day drew to a close, visitors could be heard sharing positive reactions to the event's thematic content. Kummeling also called the programme 'rich and diverse' in his wrap-up address. Participants and organisers can look back on a successful Onderwijsparade 2019!
By inclusion correspondents Rinske van Herwaarden and Myra-Lot Perrenet.