Lethbridge College is making a commitment to identifying and improving its equity, diversity and inclusion on campus. The college is one of just 17 Canadian post-secondary institutions chosen for the Dimensions pilot program, a national initiative designed to foster transformational change within research bodies and post-secondary institutions.
The two-year project will see the college set up an internal self-assessment committee to evaluate what Lethbridge College is already doing to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and identify areas in need of improvement. The goal of the program is to eliminate obstacles and inequalities in the research and post-secondary ecosystems to support equal access for all.
“Every person deserves equal access to education and research opportunities,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “We are proud to have been selected to join this important project and to commit resources to it. We welcome its findings as a way to ensure our activities are entirely inclusive.”
Dimensions has been developed by the national tri-council of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Funding (CIHR). The program aims to create inclusion opportunities in research, while recognizing that inclusion must be a priority at the institution-level for it to truly be successful in the research realm.
Lethbridge College is one of only five colleges to be chosen among the 17 post-secondary partners and joins the University of Calgary as the only Alberta representatives.
“To create inclusive opportunities in research would only be solving part of the problem,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President – Research. “A campus environment where everyone is welcomed, encouraged and able to engage in educational and research opportunities is a necessity. Research benefits from diverse experiences, viewpoints and backgrounds and this project will move us towards identifying how to make that a reality.”
Following the lead of successful equity, diversity and inclusion programs such as Athena SWAN in the United Kingdom and Ireland, SAGE in Australia and SEA Change in the United States, a made-in-Canada program was developed following cross-country consultations. One of those sessions was held at Lethbridge College in March.
The 17 institutions participating in the pilot project will undertake data collection, analysis and action-planning initiatives as recommended by their internal self-assessment committees. They will also have access to tri-agency supports and will take part in collaborative workshops with other participating institutions. There is no funding attached to being a part of the project.
“It’s a testament to Dr. Burns and the Executive Leadership Team that they are willing to strongly support and champion this project, because it does involve committing college resources to make it a reality,” says Dr. Jennifer Davis, Lethbridge College researcher and instructor who is taking the lead on the Dimensions project. “It was encouraging to discover how much the college is already doing to foster inclusive activities on campus, and this project will really allow us to become a leader in this area.”
Institutions that successfully complete the two-year project will receive formal recognition from the tri-agency for their efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion. Dimensions addresses obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ+ communities.
Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region that brings together community organizations, researchers and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.