July 21, 2021Print | PDF
In 2019, Wilfrid Laurier University was selected as one of 17 Canadian institutions to participate in the federal Dimensions Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Pilot Program. Administered by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the program establishes a system to publicly recognize post-secondary institutions seeking to increase EDI in their environments and across the research ecosystem.
As entrenched in the Dimensions Charter, “the postsecondary research community has the greatest potential to thrive when members experience equitable, inclusive and unbiased systems and practices.” After the pilot in 2022, institutions prepare an official application to obtain formal recognition from the federal Dimensions Tri-Agency Team as a Dimensions institution.
“Over the pilot, Laurier has committed to leading a comprehensive institutional scan, assessment and action planning to identify and address inequities faced by members of our research community,” says Laurier Dimensions program coordinator Rebecca Smyth. “This includes examining EDI issues experienced by students, faculty and staff across equity-deserving groups such as Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, racialized persons and members of Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, plus (2SLGBTQ+) communities, as well as individuals who identify as from more than one of these groups.”
In November 2020, Laurier’s Office of the Associate Vice-President of EDI established the university’s EDI Self-Assessment Team (EDI-SAT) to deliver activities related to the Dimensions Pilot Program. The EDI-SAT is composed of Laurier students, faculty and staff with dynamic backgrounds in EDI and institutional research. Early on, the team participated in two roundtable training sessions on Unconscious Bias and Accountability in Research, which were delivered by Heena Mistry, an EDI training specialist. Roundtable discussions and training were carried out to ensure a common understanding of equity-related issues and concepts specific to the Laurier context before beginning the mandate of the EDI-SAT.
Guided by Tri-Agency areas of focus, the EDI-SAT began the Dimensions institutional scan in examining EDI and research at Laurier in March 2021. Particular attention was given to the different groups that comprise Laurier’s research ecosystem, including students, full-time faculty, post-doctoral fellows, contract teaching faculty, research and teaching staff and administrative staff. This included a scan of pertinent policies, programs, services, plans, reports and existing data related to:
A significant gap identified surrounding EDI at Laurier was the need for a more comprehensive understanding of Laurier’s diverse and unique student community. In collaboration with the larger Laurier community, the Office of the Associate Vice-President of EDI and the EDI-SAT established the new voluntary Student Self-Identification (ID) Form. The information generated through the form can be analyzed to identify patterns and trends in inequitable barriers and challenges experienced by students. A formal analysis of this data will take place in Fall 2021 led by the Office of the Associate Vice-President of EDI, members of the EDI-SAT and the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.
In the coming weeks, the EDI-SAT will conclude the Dimensions institutional scan. The team will then begin the Dimensions assessment and action planning. Action items will align with Laurier’s EDI and Indigeneity Action Plan, Canada Research Chairs Program EDI Action Plan and the soon-to-be-released EDI Strategic Plan.
Laurier will also continue to participate in national working group meetings with other pilot institutions. Together, participating institutions and the Dimensions Tri-Agency Team continue to collaborate to develop the Dimensions program design and future delivery. To date, Laurier has participated in national working groups related to Dimensions Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection and Dimensions Recognition Scheme.
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For further questions or information on the Dimensions Pilot Program at Laurier or the EDI-SAT, contact the Office of the Associate Vice-President of EDI at email@example.com.