How to Integrate Diversity Policy into Your Study Programme
Why Diversity Is Relevant to Your Study Programme
Today’s society is very diverse. Inevitably, this means that our university and our study programmes face a number of challenges. Society needs highly educated knowledge workers who know how to deal with the present diversity. It is important, therefore, that students learn to deal with diversity and that they are prepared for a highly diverse work and research context. Strengthening diversity competencies is a challenge for every study programme.
In addition, we have observed at Ghent University how a considerable amount of talent goes to waste. Students from specific groups (e.g. international students, students with a migration background, students with a functional disability, students from a socially vulnerable environment, students who are the first of their families to enter into higher education, etc.) are underrepresented. It is more difficult for them to take the step towards higher education and they run a greater risk of study delay or dropout. Therefore, study programmes should pursue a policy that welcomes a diverse student audience and that offers optimal learning and growth opportunities to all students.
What is Ghent University's Definition of Diversity?
At Ghent University we choose to approach diversity in all its facets. In other words, we do not limit our definition to cover only cultural diversity, we include all and any form of diversity. Every student and staff member has their own, unique combination of visible and less visible personality traits. Dealing with diversity means benefitting from the qualities, talents, experiences and competencies of all students and staff members, while taking into account differences and similarities between individuals and groups within our university.
We are an open, pluralistic university and wish to see all talent that is present in society reflected in our community. Our diversity policy therefore pays specific attention to the underrepresentation of specific groups of students and staff members. Ghent University’s diversity policy pleads for the creation of an inclusive learning, work and research environment, in which students and staff members feel at home, and which attracts a diversity of talents, putting them to good use and strengthening them.
How to Integrate Diversity in the Study Programme?
In the following sections, we will go into more detail about ways for study programmes to define a diversity policy. In the first part, we look at how to strengthen strudents' diversity competencies, and how to integrate this into the curriculum. In the second part, we focus on creating a diversity-conscious learning environment so that all students have maximum growth opportunities, and in the third part we discuss how to stimulate attention to diversity in your teaching team.