'Transformational step': Federal program to bring greater diversity to university research

May 14th, 2019

By Jeff Green

'Transformational step': Federal program to bring greater diversity to university research

Memorial is embracing a new federal pilot program to make university research more inclusive.

Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada is inspired by the United Kingdom’s internationally recognized Athena SWAN program.

Launched by Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan, Dimensions aims to address systemic barriers, particularly those experienced by members of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.

‘Fresh new perspectives’

President Gary Kachanoski officially signed the program’s charter, which outlines its eight principles, on May 10.

“One of Memorial’s core values is inclusiveness and diversity and we are deeply committed to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Dr. Kachanoski.

“I applaud the federal government for launching this new program. It will help ensure universities like Memorial attract and retain talented researchers from diverse backgrounds, bringing fresh new perspectives to our university community.”

The Dimensions charter is applicable to all research disciplines and fields of study at all post-secondary institutions (universities, colleges, CEGEPs and polytechnics). Those schools that endorse the charter commit to embed equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles in their policies, practices, action plans and culture.

The charter reflects extensive consultations that took place over several months across the country. Earlier this year, the federal government hosted a consultation workshop at Memorial to seek input on the new charter.

Federal investment

In addition to launching the new program and unveiling the charter, the federal government announced an investment of $5.3 million in funding under the EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grant program. The investment will help institutions advance their EDI goals.

In a news release, Minister Duncan says the launch of Dimensions, “along with new grants and a robust charter, will help remove systemic barriers and improve access for everyone to equal opportunities, treatment and recognition in research. This truly is a critical and transformational step for Canadian post-secondary institutions. We know that when we bring together diverse points of view, our health, environment, communities and economy can thrive.”

Jeff Green is a senior communications advisor with the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at jeffg@mun.ca.




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