In mid November ACGR members Professors Helen Klaebe and Imelda Whelehan, along with Executive Officer, Fiona Zammit, travelled to the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa to participate in the 12th Annual Strategic Leaders Global Summit on Graduate Education.
Convened by the US Council of Graduate Studies (CGS) and the University of Johannesburg, the meeting brought together 32 graduate education leaders from 14 countries to explore the theme, “Supporting Diversity in Graduate Education” and share how they identify, create, and disseminate curricula and strategies to ensure diversity in their programs and on their campuses.
Over the two-day meeting, each delegate made a short presentation focussed on one of the following:
- Global, regional and national understandings of diversity
- Creating a campus culture that values diversity
- Recruiting a diverse student body
- Creating inclusive programs
- Addressing specific demographics
A copy of all of the papers can be downloaded here: 12th Annual Global Leaders Summit
As the meeting progressed it became clear that whilst there is no ‘global’ language and understanding of diversity, across the world we do share a great number of common challenges: eg. Representation and recruitment of indigenous candidates with Canada; recruiting and retaining women into STEM subjects for practically everyone.
Some great pockets of good practice were shared during the program, and we gained a better understanding of the varied contexts within which we are working including: national priorities, regulatory frameworks and levels of institutional and national investment. But there was also an acceptance that no one has yet fully achieved inclusiveness (as opposed to assimilation) in their graduate programs.
A key take home message for Imelda, Helen and Fiona was that true acceptance of diversity requires cultural change at all levels- starting in community – through schools family/public opinion, and also including industry/government- the employers of our graduates. In order to play our part in this endeavour, universities (and graduate research leaders) must consult widely with industry and other institutions who face the same diversity and inclusivity challenges.
A joint statement of findings/actions arising from the Summit will be issued in due course by CGS and shared with ACGR members.