Upcoming forum explores assumptions in the classroom

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UVic will hold its eighth annual Provost’s Diversity Research Forum from Jan. 29–30. This year’s forum, titled Privilege & Prejudice: Assumptions in Learning, will explore how perceptions such as gender, social class, sexuality, and ethnicity can impact how people learn and teach.

“I’m hoping that we provide a provocative conversation so that people feel that this campus is for everybody,” said Grace Wong Sneddon, the Director, Academic Leadership Initiatives and Chair for the forum. “It’s not just for the privileged. That’s why our title is what it is this year—looking at privilege and prejudice and assumptions in learning.”

When Sneddon started the forum with four other UVic faculty eight years ago, she began by “doing it on a shoestring,” she said. “We had no money, but we thought it was really important to have a diversity conference. We wanted it attached to research because we know how important research is.”

The forum has grown each year since its origin. Four years ago, the diversity writing contest was added, and three years ago the spoken word contest was introduced.

This year’s keynote speaker is indigenous playwright, writer, and humorist Drew Hayden Taylor who wrote Motorcycles and Sweetgrass and is currently writing Under the Buckskin: Politically Incorrect Indigenous Humour.

Other discussions this year will include: Cognitive Diversity: Different Ways of Thinking; Navigating Gender and Sexual Diversity in Learning Environments; and No More Stolen Indigenous Sisters: A Renewal of Hope.

Keeping true to the topic of diversity, the forum includes several student speakers, as well as representatives from the departments of law, business, social science, humanities, and education.

“There are lots of us who feel othered, not just from the way that we look, but the way we believe, how we present, how we behave,” said Sneddon. “People don’t always see diversity and excellence linked together. To me, excellence isn’t excellence without diversity. That’s what gives it the broad enrichment. If we all think the same and do the same things, that can’t be excellent.”

 

More information on the forum and a complete list of talks can be found at here.

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