Vision and Action Statement for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics Vision and Action Statement for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion contains a vision of the culture to which we aspire, articulates a set of shared responsibilities which will help enact the vision and a set of commitments to help us monitor progress and build on successes. The Vision and Action Statement is not static, but rather must be brought into being through the actions of our Departmental members including staff, faculty, students, and contracted research and teaching staff. As such, we consider this to be a living document; it is meant to shape and invite regular reflection on Departmental functioning and governance.

VISION STATEMENT

The Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics values diversity, equity and inclusion, and seeks to cultivate and sustain a working environment that is welcoming, safe and supportive for all. As a workplace community, we recognize that this means seeking commonalities with one another while respecting differences and actively cultivating a culture where everyone can succeed. As we interact with one another through our day-to-day activities and in our various roles, we will be guided by a ‘whole person’ approach. In practice, this means appreciating that everyone comes to their role(s) as an instructor, administrator, support staff, researcher, or student not in a vacuum, but as complex individuals with unique physical, emotional and social histories. As such, we strive to practice empathy, respect and humility as we interact with one another on a daily basis and as we work to develop, implement, and navigate departmental policies.

Our vision is that Departmental activities, functions, and communications will meet or surpass relevant Federal, Provincial, and University guidelines. Moreover, they will be undertaken with care for transparency and accountability, both of which foster trust over time and as the membership of our community changes and/or grows. With trust as a foundation, we hope that community-members will feel inclined to take part in (and enjoy!) departmental activities and functions. We also hope that bonds of trust and mutual respect will sustain us through difficult periods that we may encounter.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Everyone in the Geography, Environment and Geomatics community has roles to play and contributions to make in pursuit of our vision. At the same time, we acknowledge that Canada’s origins rest in colonialism, that structures and practices of settler-colonialism persist today, and that many people experience barriers to education, employment and full participation (e.g. systemic discrimination, economic disadvantage, racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia, or homophobia).

It is our professional and social responsibility to respect diversity and intersectionality in culture, circumstance, race, indigeneity, ethnicity, gender, age, (dis)ability, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic status, and place of origin.

Self-reflection and learning are important tools to help reveal more inclusive ways of thinking and acting. As a starting point, each community member is strongly encouraged to reflect and consider frequently on how

each bullet point relates to the community and their role(s) in it, and identify where personal learning or the development may be necessary:

  • We are responsible for being aware of, and upholding, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and its applicability to our operations and to seek out further guidance when instances arise. The Code prohibits harassment and discrimination against people based on 17 different personal attributes including, but not limited to, race, place of origin, ancestry, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, disability and family status. We commit to understand and act on this responsibility and to be diligent in keeping discrimination and harassment out of the spaces we participate in, including our classes, hallways, offices, field sites and labs.
    • Discrimination is any intentional or unintentional “distinction based on grounds relating to personal characteristics of the individual or group which has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations or disadvantages on such individuals or groups not imposed upon others or which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to other members of society” (OHRC)
    • Harassment can be defined as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to reasonably be known to be unwelcome. One incident can be significant or substantial enough to constitute harassment.
  • We are responsible for taking University trainings that are intended to help students, staff, and faculty build personal competencies in diversity, equity and inclusion and keeping workplaces free of discrimination and harassment.
  • We are responsible for acting professionally and ensuring that we do not abuse power, intentionally or otherwise. This is especially important when one’s role involves assessment, evaluation, and/or determining outcomes that have implications for the career and/or educational trajectories of others (e.g., teaching, supervising, TAing, peer evaluation, performance review).
  • We are responsible for addressing any instances of racism, gender-based discrimination, abuses of power, or any other behaviour that contravenes our shared vision, and approaching these instances mindfully, as learning opportunities where appropriate.
  • In the event of a disclosure regarding one or more members of our department that warrants formal consideration in the context of this statement and/or University policies, it is our responsibility to follow appropriate institutional protocols and channels that provide guidance on reporting [i.e., Safe Disclosure Policy; Sexual Violence Policy; Sexual Violence Policy procedures for Staff, Faculty, and Students].
  • Make students and staff aware of University wellness and reporting centers
  • If approached with concerns about our actions or behaviour, we commit to listening without being defensive and with openness to learn in support of making our collective workplace safe for everyone.

We are responsible for upholding an environment that fosters respectful discussion, debate, and the free exchange of ideas. At the same time, however, we are responsible for checking in with ourselves to consider biases and are committed to learning, and considering, other points of view.

COMMITMENTS

What follows is a list of actions our department is committed to taking in the short (1 year) and medium term (2-3 years) to help us implement the vision and follow through on the responsibilities outlined above.

SHORT TERM

  • All members of the Department, including new and continuing members of the community, will become familiar with this document, relevant policies1 , regulations and available resources (Positive Space Training, Principles of Belonging: Anti Oppression and Anti-Racism, Sexual Violence Support Module.)
  • The department will hold at least one family-friendly event per calendar year that does not include alcohol.
  • We will take a broad and/or relational view of success and will strive to acknowledge a wider range of positive and noteworthy outcomes achieved by community members.
  • The Grad Affairs Committee will continuously update the Grad Student handbook to ensure it is consistent with our vision, transparency of policies and outline the responsibilities of students, supervisors and department

MEDIUM TERM

  • Generate an inclusive definition of community that reflects the value and contributions of administrative and research staff, sessionals, post-docs etc.
    • Chair’s office will create department communications protocol to be better aligned with this definition of community inclusion.
  • Provide resources and encourage Department members to familiarize themselves with the history of the land on which the University of Guelph is located and on which their research takes place.
  • Commit to adding and updating ‘Department Best Practices’ guidelines to this document, as an Appendix. For example, the guidelines could contemplate social events, social media, faculty- student relationships, and respectful communication.
  • Develop a handbook for sessional lecturers, so that they are better integrated into the department and are more consistently supported.
  • Develop and implement EDI criteria that apply for department sponsored events, such as the Speaker’s Series.
  • Hold a department meeting, open to all in the community, twice yearly (F/W). At least one of these will dedicate time to discuss key ideas/actions in regards to EDI or provide guidance on self- reflection.
  • Ongoing discussions and steps to formalize departmental governance will centre equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Explore and determine mechanisms through which commitments and progress will be monitored and ways in which we will mainstream EDI into departmental processes and events.

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1 Including, but not limited to: Human Rights, Accessibility Services, Sexual Violence Policy (Students), Sexual Violence Policy (Faculty & Staff)