Good Practices Lab on Diversity Actions

How does your institution promote diversity? For the eucen Autumn Seminar 2023, my colleague Alexandra Gössl and I designed a workshop to gain awareness and reflect on current actions in European Higher Education institutions.

Diversity Challenges Unnoticed in Academia.

In the conference program there was a presentation by Emmanuel Acquah titled “Underrepresentation of minority groups in higher education – is it an oversight or deliberate oversight?” and I immediately felt reminded of “professional noticing”, an approach that I am currently focusing on in my research, especially in the EU project “PROMISE”. There are reasons, why we don’t notice. Literature on “professional noticing” (Mason 2002, Rooney & Boud 2019) suggests that there are 3 main reasons, why people don’t notice:

  • They are not educated on a certain topic, therefore they are not “trained” to notice certain patterns.
  • They are not in the right headspace to notice. They are not attentive.
  • They simply don’t want to learn or understand. (E.g. to minimize cognitive dissonance)

Noticing is a prerequisite for taking action.

Since the kick-off of the PROMISE project at the beginning of this year in Krems, I wondered how I could visualize “professional noticing”. After semi-systematic literature research, interviews with experts and stakeholders, and a workshop with lecturers, entrepreneurs, instructional designers, and an incubator coach, I came up with several versions of my visualization. This is the latest version:

Professional noticing, a central part of professional vision.

The picture makes clear: No noticing, nothing to reflect upon, and little chance to choose a suitable reaction or action in a certain situation. Diversity challenges are often not noticed and therefore, there are still actions missing or not suitable for the situation.

Good practices still exist.

Still, there are some good practices out there regarding diversity challenges. In our workshop, we wanted to unveil which solutions are already actively practiced in Higher Education in Europe and beyond. Higher Ed staff from many countries joined to eucen Autumn seminar, so this was a great chance for us.

Learning about all these practices in so many countries is a chance to build awareness to notice diversity challenges at our home institutions, that we might have missed to notice in the past.

Workshop Intro "Good Pratices Lab on Diversity Actions"

Workshop design

It was the second day of the eucen Seminar, one of the last activities of the conference. We talked a lot about theoretical concepts and challenges in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. There were excellent talks and panel discussions. In our design, we now wanted to shift to focus on what already works. We are aware that the diversity challenges might differ from country to country, but still collecting practices makes sense to see what is similar and what could be an inspiration for future actions in one’s environment.

We randomly divided the conference cohort into 4 groups with different topics:

  • Ethnic Minorities
  • Gender
  • Disabilities
  • LGBTQ+

Afterwards, participants should reflect, on if they can remember any actions toward challenges in the assigned topic of their group. If they cannot remember anything, they were asked to look it up online. As a next step, participants talked about their findings: What is similar, what is different? Could they cluster their findings into categories? What are the lessons learned? Finally, the group presented the main results briefly to the other groups in a plenary session.

Good Practices Collection – Outcomes

In Mural, I collected the outcomes of the groups and the main lessons learned:

Are some of the actions also implemented in your institution? Maybe you also find inspiration for future actions. If you want to have a closer look or zoom in, please check out our MURAL. You can access it as a visitor without registration. You are also welcome to contribute to the MURAL.

What are good practices in your institutions?

Join the MURAL, pick a post-it, and share your good practices.

We would highly appreciate your contribution!

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