Doing diversity and inclusion instead of talking about it at the Radboud philosophy department

What would we need to ‘unlearn’ to achieve a more diverse curriculum and a more inclusive teaching and learning environment? How can this process of unlearning be activated? These questions are posed by the project Sites for Unlearning: Philosophy Department. In November, the project held its first workshop, bringing together teachers and students in Philosophy. This is a report of that workshop.

The first day started with a systemic constellation hosted by Gerard van der Ree, to visualize and concretize the landscape when it comes to diversity and inclusivity at the Faculty. The format of the constellation proved both challenging and enriching, since it invited participants to draw on their emotions and embodied experiences rather than approach the issue cognitively and philosophically. During the session, several main themes arose, such as: voicelessness, joyless structures and the joy of philosophy, the course syllabus, and the place of philosophy in society.   

On the second day of the workshop, we picked up these themes and started to work on them in small student-teacher groups. We started with a collage exercise to open and reframe the topics, and then we came up with micro-interventions per topic that may have the potential to initiate some change within the faculty.  

The first outcomes and experiences of the workshop were shared with the academic community on Monday December 4 during the morning coffee. We are at the point of carrying out the micro-interventions and experience their impact. 

 When I started on the workshop I was confused and thought: what am I exactly doing here, what can I contribute? But as we were working in the groups I got very excited about our idea for a micro-intervention. I think our intervention symbolizes what philosophy is all about: thinking together seriously, but also having fun.
—Maureen, student participant  

By choosing formats and ways of working that allow all voices to be heard and that subvert ‘academia as usual’, the workshop went beyond talking about diversity and inclusion in the university in an abstract manner, towards experimenting with what this could concretely feel like.    

This workshop was part of Katrine Smiet, Annabel Dirkzwager’s and Rozi Toth’s TLC innovationvoucher project Unlearning to learn more. If you wish to learn more about the project, please be in touch!

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