Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) priorities for higher education across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is the theme of Advance HE's Inaugural Conference in Ireland on 10 June.
Delivered online via our virtual conference platform, The Next Steps for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: from inclusive leadership and culture to embedded equitable practice will provide an opportunity for delegates to consider the varied aspects of EDI as they relate to embedding EDI in institutional strategies and ensuring implementation across the institution.
Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of St Andrews, is set to open the conference. Prof Mapstone said: "Universities are about the pursuit of truth, and making change happen. Diversity and inclusion are strategic priorities for universities now in a way that was not imaginable even a quarter of a century ago. We need to learn both from the progress we have genuinely made and from the missteps we have made. No one should be excluded from the inclusivity agenda."
Professor Ivana Bacik, Associate Professor, Law, Trinity College Dublin, will deliver the closing keynote. Prof Bacik said: "It is vital that higher education institutions continue to prioritise the embedding of equality, diversity and inclusion measures within their structures.
“In this process, a sustained commitment to gender equality is essential; and those involved in implementing EDI measures must undertake critical analyses of issues and opportunities relating to gender equality, in achieving progress on tangible outcomes."
Dr Orla Flynn, President of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Nicola Doherty, Head of Education Sales EMEA & LATAM and out@in Dublin Lead, LinkedIn Learning, will participate in an informal conversation on leading a strategic approach to EDI and driving change.
Dr Flynn said: “There is an abundance of data over many years illustrating the EDI challenges in higher education institutions; as our societies have changed and evolved so too might we have expected change in our universities and colleges. However, the historic forces against systemic change were and remain strong – without a strategic approach we can expect the pace of future change to be glacial.
“But there are many positive signs that the tide is turning and we are seeing not just greater awareness of the challenges but also strategic initiatives being implemented to address them.”
A panel discussion with Dr Amanullah De Sondy from University College Cork (UCC) and Owen Patrick Ward will explore how we can approach the current challenges and next steps for race equality in Ireland. Dr De Sondy is Head of the Study of Religions Department, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at UCC and Chair of the Race Equality Forum. He said:
“Our renewed focus on race equality within our universities arises in the context of many factors. Inward migration to Ireland, our diverse student body that is not reflected amongst our staff, the Black Lives Matter movement and the catalogue of racist experiences we hear of every day. These harsh realities have energised focus during this pandemic and they can no longer be ignored.
“The Higher Education Authority's first of its kind survey on race equality is ground-breaking in Ireland and the survey results are to be published later this summer. The time is now to have these critical conversations and for every university to enact a race equality action plan. We owe this to every Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic person at our Irish universities so that they feel strengthened, supported and included.”
Parallel workshops during the afternoon session will explore race equality, inclusive leadership and sexual consent and gender-based violence.