Content will be added as the project evolves. If you have an FAQ you’d like us to add please contact us!
What is Diversity Circles? +
Our project description reads, “An Indigenous model for post-secondary teachers and academic staff to utilize professional mentoring and community outreach for engaging student and community diversity.”
What is the 'framework'? +
Sometimes people ask us, what do you mean by “an Indigenous model” for supporting diversity at BCIT? To receive the full answer to that question, you need to come out to some of our events. At its core, an Indigenous model is best suited for this project as it inherently reflects the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of life. It provides a necessary counterpoint to traditional institutional thinking, which is driven by the “normalization” of educational outcomes. When educational approaches are purely outcome-based, they tend to lead to a deficit model, where students don’t measure up and are “weeded out.” In contrast, a more process-oriented approach leads to a strengths-based model, allowing individuals to use their own strengths and gifts to succeed on educational paths. Find out more about the framework.
Who is 'Diversity Circles'? +
The FSA’s Diversity Circles project is a partnership with other stakeholders at BCIT and exists alongside many other programs and initiatives supporting inclusion. Because the FSA is acting as a community partner, Diversity Circles was eligible for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Community and College Social Innovation Fund and has been granted over $150,000 in funding. Check out the bios of the DC core team.
Who is Diversity Circles for? +
Diversity Circles is not just about helping our students realize their strengths and gifts, it’s also about all of us fully using and sharing our own strengths and gifts. We want to hear your ideas about diversity, including your suggestions for topics and speakers. We are always looking to partner with people and with departments to co-host Diversity Circles events, and we welcome ideas for guest speakers from the community and from industry which are relevant to these discussions.
Like us, you don’t need to be a formal expert with degrees in the area of every diversity topic; your passion or interest may be fueled by involvement with community groups, student groups, or even by experiences with family and friends. Or maybe you are simply motivated to do the best you can to support your students’ success. Bring your ideas to the next Diversity Circles event or contact us directly with your insights.
How exactly is Diversity Circles relevant to educators? +
From Shannon Kelly, DC Co-Lead:
Because my son has Autism, I studied ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) extensively on my own, in particular regarding learning and education in relation to ASD. One day, I realized that I was regularly adapting my teaching at BCIT to support students with learning differences in my classes. Very small changes to the way I delivered my labs made a big difference - not just to those students who identified as having learning differences, but to the entire class.
But more than just curriculum delivery, it was the social and interpersonal aspects of the student group dynamics where I really noticed how a little healthy facilitation on my part went a long way to securing better interactions and better results with diverse groups of students.
These experiences got me thinking about my fellow instructors at BCIT. Surely other people had encountered similar things in the classroom. Maybe my experiences could help others - and maybe other instructors’ ideas could help my teaching too!
But, from a wider perspective, I also started to think about the entire post-secondary landscape, and how diversity in general is increasing and becoming more complex. Are we fully prepared to help our students and communities in this changing landscape? My colleague, Zaa Joseph, and I began discussing how peer-to-peer and community building strategies could help employees at BCIT, and from those discussions Diversity Circles emerged.
What does Diversity Circles mean for my work at BCIT? +
One way to describe it is a series of panels, workshops, conversations, tools, and connections to support all of us to effectively engage with our increasingly diverse students. Another way to explain our project is an approach to positively, sensitively, and strategically address diversity, by leveraging existing knowledge within our own BCIT community and the wider community too. We will achieve these goals through strengthening our community with knowledge sharing, networking, and mentoring initiatives.
What are the benefits to FSA members? +
Diversity Circles was co-created by FSA Directors Zaa Joseph and Shannon Kelly. Back in 2015, following detailed proposals, the FSA Board voted unanimously to support the project. Why? Diversity Circles was proposed to the FSA Board as being, ‘by members, for members, and benefiting members as well as the entire BCIT community.’ We saw that the peer-to-peer networking and mentoring model proposed for the Diversity Circles project was a way to have our members’ voices heard on issues of diversity and their impact on students. The model is meant to empower FSA members and the entire BCIT community to better understand and meet the needs of their students and speak to what faculty and staff need to support diversity in the workplace.
How can I find out about upcoming events? +
To keep up with all Diversity Circles news, including upcoming events, please subscribe to our contact list.
How frequently are the events held? +
Larger workshops and panels are held about every 2-3 months. Small group workshops for faculty and staff at BCIT are held as requested. Want a workshop for your Department? Contact us today!