Now in its third incarnation, the annual University of Lethbridge Respect and Diversity Awareness Week is an established campus event that brings to light issues related to diversity and respect both in the workplace and beyond.
Presented by the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association's Gender, Equity and Diversity Caucus, the week runs Mar. 11-15 and features six events over the span of five days. The goal, of course, is to have the themes that are discussed throughout the week resonate long after the event spotlight has faded.
"I think it's great to highlight the week and to bring in speakers and all the bells and whistles, but this is something that should be infused in our everyday," says caucus member and Chair of Respect and Diversity Awareness Week, Dr. Noella Piquette.
An associate professor in the Faculty of Education, Piquette says that issues of diversity are becoming a greater part of mainstream conversation but there is much work to be done.
'Diversity Includes All' is the theme to this year's week and is designed to get faculty members to think about their own diversity as well as the student diversity that exists on campus.
"We do a fantastic job at this university talking about students and how we can support them, and while we're not trying to shift the focus, we're broadening the focus to include the fact that we have a huge faculty and staff component on campus, and it's important to think about the diversity that exists within those groups," says Piquette.
The week kicks off with a presentation from assistant professor of neuroscience Dr. Robbin Gibb as she presents Sex Differences in the Brain, Monday, Mar. 11 at noon in TH241.
Gibb will outline some of the factors influencing brain development that are mediated by sex differences. What promises to be a lively question and answer session follows her talk.
On Tuesday, the Spoken Word – Poetry Slam event is at noon in AH176. This gives presenters a platform to speak, read, rhyme or rant their words in a two-minute window as they discuss diversity and inclusion.
"I think this will be so much fun and really puts a new slant on discussing diversity," says Piquette, who notes that the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group is also supporting the event.
Faculty, staff and students are all welcome to take part. Participants just need to sign up in advance by contacting Piquette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday's event is a presentation with Jeff Meadows and Brad Reamsbottom of the Teaching Centre. They will discuss Supporting Faculty in Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities, focussing on some of the key issues that students may be experiencing within reading and writing tasks, and specific strategies that can be employed to assist them.
A pair of events takes place Thursday, beginning with a wheelchair basketball demonstration hosted by Dr. Mary Dyck (kinesiology and physical education) and with the Lethbridge Wheelchair Basketball Association (10:45 a.m. in the 1st Choice Savings Centre gym), followed by a special film screening of Shameless: The ART of disability (7 p.m. in PE264).
"It's a heartwarming movie, but at the same time it's also very comical," says Piquette. "They really try and show that disability is not all about being sad and serious, it's a part of life and they do a great job at portraying that message."
The week wraps up with Friday's Strengthening Academic Capacity: Gender Dimensions presentation by Mary Butterfield of the Office of Research and Innovation Services.
Butterfield will speak to gender equality in academic research at 12:15 p.m. in TH277.
Piquette has long been involved with issues related to diversity. She was a special education teacher and guidance counsellor for 14 years at the school level and now as an associate professor, teaches courses in special education at the undergraduate level and in counselling at the graduate level, focusing on a broader picture of diversity and mechanisms to advocate for inclusion within all community systems.
"We've done our best to represent as many different approaches to the discussion of diversity issues as we could with this week's events," she says. "I really do urge everyone to find a topic that might be of interest to them and to engage in the conversation."
For more information on any of these events or any issues related to the Gender and Diversity Caucus, contact the following members: Chair, Dr. Carly Adams (email@example.com); Sandra Cowan (firstname.lastname@example.org); Dr. Hester Jiskoot (email@example.com); Dr. Kevin McGeough (firstname.lastname@example.org); Dr. Luz Ospina (email@example.com); Dr. Noella Piquette (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Dr. Jennifer Thannhauser (email@example.com); Dr. John Usher (firstname.lastname@example.org); or Ilsa Wong (email@example.com).