EDIA: Foundations course an opportunity for personal and professional growth
Students, staff, and faculty will learn together
It’s more than just a workshop, an online certificate, or professional development. It’s a way to help us all do better, with foundations in equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA).
EDIA: Foundations is a new course for the UM Community including UM students, staff, and faculty. It brings everyone together to develop knowledge and skills around equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, and work towards growth and transformation both personally and on UM campuses. Registration opens on January 22.
EDIA is about fairness, says Robin Attas, an EDIA-focused educational developer seconded from the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning to develop and facilitate the first offering of this course. People are different. They have different experiences and are affected by different historical systems and institutions. Some face more barriers than others. Removing barriers ensures opportunities and promotes fairness.
For example, not everyone has equal or equitable access to post-secondary education due to systemic barriers such as the cost, location of institutions, admission requirements, and teaching strategies used.
Discussing EDIA can be uncomfortable. The discomfort comes from facing what is not right or fair.
A person confronting their own participation in systems of oppression realizes their own privilege and power and that they benefitted while others were harmed. A person learning about what is not right or fair and discussing it with others is reminded of their lived experiences that could be reflective of exactly what they are studying in this course.
When people feel awful about something, they can either pretend it doesn’t exist or do something about it.
Do something about it
Attas encourages everyone to join her in doing something about it by taking this course.
“Our discomfort can lead us to personal growth and university-wide transformation,” Attas says.
Offered by the Division of Extended Education in partnership with the Office of Equity Transformation, and with the support of the UM President’s Office, this new course is part of a campus-wide strategy to enact necessary changes around EDIA across UM campuses by educating and empowering UM staff, students, and faculty, to contribute to collective transformation.
The course will be offered in a hybrid format, including a mix of asynchronous learning modules for self-study, and synchronous facilitated sessions offered either in person or online. It is designed for everyone, no matter their educational background or prior experience and will be offered at no cost to the learner. Learners will earn a digital badge.
Students, staff, and faculty will learn together with discussions and critical self-reflection on EDIA topics. This important content can be difficult to process, so learners are encouraged to be prepared with appropriate self-care strategies.
For all of us
The EDIA: Foundations course was created in response to many UM reports and taskforces: President’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Final Report, Responding to Sexual Violence, Harassment and Discrimination at the University of Manitoba: A Path Forward, Anti-Racism Task Force Interim Recommendations to Address Racism, University of Manitoba Indigenous Senior Leadership report. All recommended education and training.
“At UM, there is excellent education and training on some topics for some groups. Now there is something for all of us. This brings students, faculty and staff together and allows for foundational conversations,” Attas says.
The educational components of this course were vetted through the Office of Equity Transformation and created in consultation with diverse campus groups informed by their communities. In ensuing conversations, learners will learn from each other.
Everyone enters the conversation around EDIA topics with different knowledge, skills, and lived experience, with our own identities and perspectives on the world. The course is an opportunity to reflect on strengths and areas for future growth in these topics, providing encouragement to move forward on a personal journey towards individual collective transformation at the University of Manitoba and beyond.
“We need more equity for more people. It’s hard to confront what we are not doing well. But by confronting it, we can deal with it and ensure it happens less often or not at all. It’s about how to live your life in a different way,” Attas says.
Start a lifelong learning process
The course is an excellent part of a lifelong learning process, Attas says. Learners can expect to spend one to three hours per week working on it.
“We’ve all had experiences where we’ve gained new insight or information that leads us to change our behaviours, or where a society’s norms have shifted and we need to change, too. Even for myself as an EDIA educator, I’m always humbled to learn from others about different experiences and ways of interacting respectfully.
“We will never meet every person in the world. There will always be something to learn.”
With a limit of 60 participants for the first class starting in March, applications will be open from January 22 to February 1, 2024. Applicants will be advised if they are eligible for the course, and then, if they are selected to participate. A lottery-based system will be implemented to avoid first-come, first-served admission practices that privilege those with access to time and technology. Those who are not selected will be added to a waitlist for a future session.