Inclusion at the University of Guelph

Group of Food Science Students
 

What does inclusion mean? It begins with a shared understanding that the most innovative, creative and successful University will be one that acknowledges and welcomes its diversity.  That is the easy part. As Canada’s population changes and our campus becomes increasingly diverse, we must be ready to embrace and respond to change on a local and global scale. To not only welcome diversity, to build it into the essence of who we are what we aspire to be.

Fostering a culture of inclusion at the University of Guelph is an institutional imperative.


Fostering a Culture of Inclusion 

An Institutional Imperative

Prepared by: The Office of Diversity and Human Rights Jane Ngobia, Assistant Vice President

April 4th, 2017

The University of Guelph Senate
 
Affirms its commitment to an inclusive campus and fostering a culture of inclusion at the
University of Guelph as an institutional imperative, acknowledging the University’s diverse
population, and that every member of an inclusive campus is a valued contributor.
 
April 21, 2017
The University of Guelph Board of Governors
 
Affirms its commitment to an inclusive campus and fostering a culture of inclusion at the
University of Guelph as an institutional imperative, acknowledging the University’s diverse
population, and that every member of an inclusive campus is a valued contributor
Endorses the Inclusion Framework document, “Fostering a Culture of Inclusion at the University
of Guelph: An Institutional Imperative,” as presented.
 

1.0 Our Commitment to Inclusion
This document proposes a framework to foster a culture of inclusion at the University of Guelph, which
encompasses the Guelph, Ridgetown and Guelph-Humber campuses. An inclusive campus is an
environment where every member is a valued contributor. It is a campus that anticipates and encourages
diverse perspectives and leveragesthem to drive creativity and innovation. Fostering a culture of inclusion
is a process that begins with acknowledging the diversity among us and the fact that some members of
our community experience barriers to education, employment, and full participation due to systemic
factors. An institution that is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion continually designs, reviews
and rebuilds structures (policies, programs, practices) that are inclusive, equitable, and accessible to all,
thereby reducing the necessity for accommodation and remediation. As our community of students,
faculty and staff becomes more diverse, a strategic system-wide approach to fostering a culture of
inclusion is imperative (Miller & Katz, 2002; McGrath, 2010; AAC&U, 2016).
 
2.0. Process, Background and Context
2.1. Consultation Process
The Framework has been developed through a series of long-term community consultation processes, as
well as a review of the relevant literature and best practices, and with reference to key institutional
documents. 
 
In the 2011/12 academic year, the Institute on Governance (IOG) was invited to undertake an operational
review of the University of Guelph’s Human Rights and Equity Office (HREO) within the context of its
mandate, role, goals, and policies at that time. Twenty-six recommendations resulted. As part of this
review process, the IOG used an on-line survey instrument to obtain insight from University of Guelph
students, staff and faculty, as well as conducting in-depth interviews. In 2013, DHR conducted follow-up
focus group sessions to further crystalize and clarify community needs and aspirations based on the
recommendations, survey results, and commentary – and this feedback included commentary on
inclusion and diversity on campus.
 
In 2015/16 academic year, the Office of Student Affairs in partnership
with DHR engaged with black students on campus through on-line survey and focus groups and obtained
specific feedback which has been included in the document “Supporting the Needs of Black Students at
the University of Guelph (2016)”. As well, during the process of community consultations that was used
to inform the development of the University of Guelph Strategic Framework: Our Path Forward (2016)
document, feedback and commentary collected from students, faculty and staff on the themes of
inclusion and diversity was reviewed by the core contributors (see below) for use in the development of
the Inclusion Framework. Collectively, these various consultations, recommendations, and comments, as
well as the consideration of best practices, and the review of relevant literature, have resulted in the final
version of the Inclusion Framework for the University of Guelph.
 
The conceptualization and drafting of this inclusion framework has benefitted enormously from the
contributions of colleagues who brought multiple lenses and institutional memory to the process. The
following individuals were core contributors to the drafting of the initial document:
 
Michelle Fach, Director, Open Learning and Educational Support
Sofie Lachapelle AVP, Academic
Lynne A. Mitchell Director, International Programs
Jane Ngobia, AVP, Diversity and Human Rights
Laurie Schnarr, Director, Student Life
Linda Watt, Director, Learning and Development and Consulting Services
Cara Wehkamp, Manager, Office of Intercultural Affairs
Brenda Whiteside, AVP, Student Affairs
Marva Wisdom, External Consultant
 
Following the development of an initial comprehensive draft, the Office of Diversity and Human Rights
further consulted various stakeholders including Vice President Administration Team (VPAT); members of
Vice President Academic Committee (VPAC) which includes Vice President Research and Vice President
External Relations, Senate Priorities and Planning Committee and Senate and for input.
Fostering a culture of inclusion is an ongoing process. As such, this Framework may be reviewed from time
to time.
 
2.2. Building on a Culture of Valuing Diversity
The University of Guelph’s commitment to foster an inclusive campus environment has been articulated
in various core documents that include but are not limited to the recent University of Guelph Strategic
Framework: Our Path Forward (2016); The Lighting of a Fire: Re-Imagining the Undergraduate Learning
Experience (2005); Statement on Educational Equity (1998); Making Change: The Strategic Plan for the
University of Guelph (1995) and Women in International Activities (1993). Internally, our commitment to
inclusion is evidenced by the establishment of many offices, policies and programs that support gender
identity and expression, Aboriginal peoples, accessibility, sexual orientation, intercultural relations, faith
and employment equity, to name but a few.
 
While an inclusive environment on-campus is essential, the University also has many programs that take
students, faculty and staff away from campus locally, nationally and internationally. Through them the
University remains connected with communities and peoples different from ourselves. Some examples
include: the Neighbourhood Nexus program which aims to make meaningful connections between
students and neighbourhood groups in low-income areas of Guelph; Project Serve which offers programs
based around themes such as Aboriginal communities, race and poverty, sexual health education and
inner city communities in Canada and the U.S.; Leave For Change, which offers staff and faculty the chance
to undertake a short-term (3-4 week) volunteer assignment, with a local partner in a developing country;
240 funded research studies across 65 different countries and our long-standing study abroad programs
including options for students to study at 109 partner institutions in 36 countries. These are only a few
examples of the many ways the University encourages faculty staff and students to sharpen their
awareness and understanding of diverse environments and meaningfully connect with the world. To
ensure meaningful and intentional outcomes are realized throughout our campus community, an
integrated inclusive framework should be developed.
 
2.3. Inclusion: An Imperative Part of Our Path Forward
The recent Strategic Framework Document –Our Path Forward (2016) has identified five over-arching
goals: inspire learning and inquiry; catalyzing discovery and change, connect communities; steward valued
resources; and nurture a distinctive university community. It urges us to, “…go beyond familiar practices
in our teaching and learning. The changing needs of students and the inevitability of new technology
demand that we challenge ourselves and explore how we will offer our learners more.” The document
also refers to our “…resolution to continue partnerships and collaborations with groups and organizations
– near and far – that share our quest for creating new knowledge.” To support our campuses in achieving
these goals we must ensure that the environments within which we learn, work and live are grounded in
values and principles of inclusion.
 
In order to foster a culture of inclusion for everyone, irrespective of culture, circumstance, race,
aboriginality, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity and
expression, socioeconomic status, and place of origin, it is also imperative that all members of our
campus communities are equipped with the knowledge, skills and supports necessary to thrive.
As Canada’s population changes, so does the demographic profile of the University of Guelph. The
population of students, staff and faculty on campus are increasingly diverse. This increasing diversification
necessitates that the University institutions and community constantly changes. The University of Guelph
also aspires to attract the best and brightest from around the world, further enhancing our intellectual
and cultural diversity. Ultimately, as evidenced by our Strategic Framework, the University of Guelph has
the capacity to show leadership in the transformation of our campus culture with a commitment to the
principles and values of inclusion.
 
3.0. The Inclusive Campus Framework
Fostering a culture of inclusion is a shared responsibility and strong leadership and governance are
essential to achieve meaningful outcomes. We need to create awareness and understanding in our
campus communities, and ensure our values, policies, practices and procedures are aligned. With an
inclusive mindset, we can take action to advance our goals and ensure accountability (figure 1). The
Framework below encompasses both the process (inner quadrants) and the context (outer circles) for
fostering a culture of inclusion at the University of Guelph.
 
 1) Awareness and Understanding; Acting; Accountability; Alignment 2) Campus Environment; Academic Landscape; Leadership & Governance Structure; and 3) Local; National; Global
 
Figure 1: A Culture of Inclusion Framework
 
3.1. The Process:
At the core of this framework are four cyclical quadrants that demonstrate the process needed to foster
the creation of a culture of inclusion.
 
These four quadrants are:
 
a. Awareness and Understanding: This includes the ways in which we encourage students,
faculty, and staff across the University to participate in and contribute to a range of intentionally
designed educational programs and initiatives; develop resources to engage students, faculty,
and staff in developing inclusive competencies, and the knowledge and skills necessary to interact
in a diverse environment.
 
b. Alignment: This may include review of policies, procedures and practices to ensure consistency
with our institutional goal of inclusion.
 
c. Action: This involves identifying opportunities for growth and a willingness to be responsive to
the changing needs of our campus communities. This may include reviewing demographic shifts
and trends with an eye to developing strategic recruitment and hiring plans; implementing
specialized support services; and undertaking curriculum development and revisions.
 
d. Accountability: This calls for establishing baselines and goals to help track and benchmark
success. This refers to ways in which we set and monitor inclusion-minded goals by developing
a unified strategy that may be replicated across units. Accountability could include conducting a
campus climate survey.
 
3.1.1. The Campus Context:
The middle circle represents our campus context.
Inclusion is more than diversity. An inclusive campus is not merely a product of the diverse identities of
the students, faculty, and staff who work, live and learn here. It spans all aspects of the University and its
activities, including the leadership and governance structures; the campus environment; and the
academic landscape (teaching, learning and research).
 
3.1.2. The External Context:
The outer circle represents the external community.
It is important to consider the context within which our campuses reside, and the intersection of local,
national and global challenges, opportunities and priorities, which can have a bearing on our campus
environment, leadership and governance, research and scholarship. Our past, current and future students,
faculty, staff and alumni are also contributing members of these communities.
 
3.1.3. Governance and Leadership
The proposed Inclusive University Committee (IUC) will support and oversee the comprehensive
progression of this framework (terms of reference attached in Appendix 1).
The proposed Academic Inclusion Committee will specifically support the academic inclusion process
(terms of reference attached in Appendix 2).
 
4.0 Initial Priorities
The following initial priorities have been identified:
1. Leadership and Governance
1. Develop terms of reference and strike the Inclusive University Committee (IUC) to act as an
umbrella body for equity initiatives across the University (AVP- DHR - see Appendix 1)
2. The Campus Environment
1. Engage with traditionally underrepresented students, staff and faculty to better understand their
needs, identify gaps in existing support services, and address gaps (AVPSA, AVP HR, AVP FARS).
2. Develop and implement a strategy to increase access and support to traditionally
underrepresented staff and faculty (AVP HR, AVP-FASR and AVP- DHR in collaboration with the
Employment Equity Committee).
3. Develop and implement a training strategy for multiple audiences to enhance inclusive
competencies throughout the Institution (AVP-DHR).
4. Develop assessment tools to help measure progress (AVP-DHR).
3. Academic Landscape
1. Develop terms of reference and strike an Academic Inclusion Committee to promote, facilitate
and support a culture of inclusion in teaching, learning and research. (VPA Office - see Appendix
2. Support instructors and teaching assistants in utilizing inclusive learning and teaching tools and
strategies by developing and delivering training and resources (AVPA Office).
3. Support researchers in realising inclusivity in the research enterprise by developing and
delivering training and resources (Research Office).
 
5.0 Conclusion
The University of Guelph is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion where every member of our
campus community has full confidence that they are accepted, valued and offered mutual respect.
Whether engaging in reciprocal relationships with partners or collaborative work on campus, our aim
is to be intentional in how we build an inclusive community of students, faculty, and staff. All members
of our community, regardless of race, aboriginality, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexual orientation,
gender expression and identity, religious affiliations and other aspects of their identities, are accepted
because of their potential and afforded equal opportunities to thrive.
The University of Guelph’s emphasis on student centeredness and our commitment to the education
and wellbeing of the whole person, and our aim to conduct research with global impact
operates within the context of increasingly diverse campus communities. Our priority must be to ensure
that our leadership and governance structures, campus environment, and academic landscape are
aligned toward fostering a campus-wide culture of inclusion. By doing so we will ensure that the
students we graduate, the researchers we train and all members of our campus
communities - are equipped to thrive and lead within the complex and dynamic realities of the
twenty first century, and beyond. 

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