Diversity and Social Climate
Welcome to our Diversity and Social Climate page!
The Philosophy department at the University of Guelph is strongly committed to the idea that intellectual inquiry is best achieved in an environment of collegiality, respectfulness, and a genuine openness to multiple perspectives and life experiences. We aim to maintain a general social climate of respect and support for all regardless of gender identity, nationality, race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender identity, or sexual orientation: in our classrooms, in our offices, and in all the department's professional and social activities. To this end, in 2016 the department created a Diversity and Climate Commitee (DCC), which aims to cultivate a supportive and inclusive environment for all of its members. The DCC will do so by providing resource materials for students and faculty, organizing workshops, running regular surveys of our graduate students for feedback on department social climate, and providing support for student and faculty concerns. The committe reports to the department to bring attention to issues of concern as well as to propose appropriate policy decisions. The DCC is dedicated to addressing a broad range of issues connected to diversity and climate.
Who we are
Our committee is made up faculty and graduate students:
Karyn Freedman (Committee Chair and HIPPO*)
Michael Furac (graduate student member)
Maya Goldenberg (faculty member and HIPPO*)
Karen Houle (faculty member)
Marie-Pier Lemay (graduate student)
John O'Connor (undergraduate member)
Patricia Sheridan (faculty member)
*HIPPO is a term we've borrowed from the Philosophy Department at NYU. This is our Helpful Interpersonal Point Person, who acts as a first point of contact should you have any concerns about climate and diversity in the Philosophy Department, or in the broader University of Guelph community. The HIPPOs will always act as discrete and respectful resources for addressing your concerns.
Why we are
For some background on why we formed this committee, please see our Diversity and Climate Committee: Who, What, and Whys
What we have done so far
The Diversity and Social Climate Committee have accomplished the following in our first year:
- Administered a Climate and Diversity survey in the Spring of 2017 (links and information forthcoming)
- Hosted a half-day workshop on the survey results (links and information forthcoming)
- Compiled resources on professional climate and diversity issues (links forthcoming)
What we'll be doing soon
- Develop a best practices document
- Organize and host a number of events to foster respect and inclusiveness (links and information forthcoming)
Resources and Information about Diversity issues in Philosophy
Best Practices in the Profession
There has been a lot of work done in the Profession as a whole regarding best practices for encouraging and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive climate in Philosophy. We recommend the American Philosophical Association Good Practices Document and the British Philosophical Association and the Society for Women in Philosophy Good Practice Scheme. Here at Guelph, we are in the process of developing a best practices document specific to our own department and intend to make that document available on this site as soon as it is completed.
What is implicit bias and stereotype threat?
Most of us, despite our explicit beliefs, have implicit biases. These are assumptions we make about social groups that inform our language, explicit attitudes, and actions in subtle ways. Implicit biases can be so deeply engrained that they inform our interactions with others when we aren't even consciously aware of them. What this means is that even the most egalitarian-minded among us may unwittingly act in ways (or hold beliefs) that are racist or sexist, despite their desire not to do so.
Stereotype threat happens when a person's group identity, shrouded by the dominant culture's stereotypical judgements and expectations, negatively affects her own capacity to succeed. The fear, conscious or unconscious, that she will be judged according to negative stereotypes can raise self-doubt and lead a person to effectively impair her own performance, thereby narrowing her educational and career prospects.
There is a great deal of evidence to show that implicit bias and stereotype threat contribute to both to the lack of diversity in philosophy and to the perception of philosophy by women and other marginalized groups as a white male discipline.
We believe it is essential to raise awareness about biases and stereotypical thinking. We also believe there are practical measures we can take to address these problems, from identifying and eliminating biases and stereotypical assumptions to effecting practices that limit their influence on our professional and social interactions with others.
We will be posting resources on implicit bias and stereotype threat soon.
Please stay tuned to this page for more updates and resource links in the coming weeks and months.