Shaping actions for inclusive education at the first Student-Lecturer-Day
At the invitation of the Diversity and Inclusion Office, 19 February the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) welcomed a group of lecturers and students to work together on enhancing and advancing inclusive education.
What do we call the colour of a band-aid?
At the opening of the Student-Lecturer Day moderator Umar Mirza questioned the name of the colour of a band-aid. Is it skin colour, or pink? This set the atmosphere for the day: be aware of the fact that we all have biases, which can lead to exclusion. Challenge your own outlook, because we all look through different lenses.
Utilizing the promise of diversity and inclusiveness
Rector magnificus, Professor Rutger Engels, studied in Groningen and he is convinced that if he had studied at the Erasmus University Rotterdam nowadays, he would have been confronted with a much richer pallet of thoughts and opinions. Engels encouraged all present to utilize the promise of diversity and inclusiveness. ‘‘Today is a good start to experiment with and develop new forms of education in which we use our diverse potential to the max.”
Reshaping the system - it’s a matter of survival
Keynote speaker Dr. Ginie Servant-Miklos, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy and Education Researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam, took the audience on an inspirational trip where she drew the bigger picture of what is really at stake. “The human society is spiralling at breakneck speed towards a warmer, more unpredictable, less hospitable and probably more violent world. And it should be obvious enough that the same thinking that got us into this mess will not get us out.” She emphasised that with a world in crisis, the window for action is getting more and more narrow. “The people, who have been running this show the past decades, will not change. If we want change, we need to bring new people in and allow new perspectives to come in. So full inclusion is needed.” Servant-Miklos did not only mean that diversity and inclusion can help us to produce better science, or provide a better student experience, but that something much bigger is at stake. “We should start with what we can all agree on: we would like to still be able to live decently on this planet by the end of the century.” In order to do so, Servant-Miklos stated that we need to reshape the system entirely. “This diversity of inputs is not a threat or assault on the system, as has often been portrayed by those who are afraid to lose power. It’s a lifeline, and we’d better grab it while we still can.”
Pick up actions
After this wake-up call for full inclusion, the participants went to the different workshops on unconscious bias, equal opportunities in education, intercultural communication, and the inclusive classroom.
At the end of the morning moderator Umar Mirza made sure that people from the audience teamed up, picked up actions on issues that they felt were important. Some of the initiatives that were picked up:
- Create an inclusive EUREKA-week where all students get the chance to participate by making sure a diverse group of people spends time together and learn from each.
- Third culture- create a university culture of our own that blends the best things of every culture.
- Change the curriculum in such a way that it also shows non-western literature and paradigms.
- Create more facilities for the inclusion of disabled and/or students with special needs.
The Diversity & Inclusion Office will organize the monitoring of the actions.
Caroline Vervloet, third year student International Bachelor of Arts & Culture Studies, attended the Student-Lecturer Day with a curious mind to see how important discussions on diversity and inclusivity are happening at EUR. “I chose the unconscious bias workshop because I wanted to investigate my very own preconceptions and to find meaningful ways to dismantle them”. According to the student, the most inspiring part of the day was the part on “shaping the actions”, in which students, lecturers and other academic staff formed action groups with the purpose to overcome non-inclusive problems within the university. “I am very much looking forward to see how the different projects that were discussed will take form”.