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Diversity & Equity

FIFSW’s commitment to diversity and equity extends to all areas of the Faculty and is aligned with the University of Toronto’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Excellence. Click here to review FIFSW’s 5-year strategic plan.

Below is a list of current initiatives and resources.

FIFSW Diversity and Equity Committee

FIFSW’s Diversity and Equity Committee contributes to Faculty’s efforts to build equity structures and processes that are sustainable, ensure engagement with key stakeholders and support communication and accountability. This Committee serves to ensure that there are Faculty-wide initiatives and strategies for equity with formal accountability in the Office of the Dean. It acts in an advisory capacity and facilitates the exchange of information, ideas and issues between FIFSW’s varied communities.

2020/2021 Committee members:

Professor Dexter Voisin, Dean (Chair)
Professor David Brennan, Associate Dean, Research
Assistant Professor Toula Kourgiantakis
Associate Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan
Associate Professor Carmen Logie
Assistant Professor Kyle Ganson

FIFSW Accessibility Working Group

FIFSW’s Accessibility Working Group is open to students, faculty and staff with an interest in accessibility issues and is a venue for conversation, information and experience-sharing regarding accessibility at the Faculty. The goal of the group is to identify barriers to participation in the FIFSW community and, through constructive problem solving and advocacy, promote increased access to programs, physical structures and activities/events within the FIFSW for students, faculty and staff. This group meets each semester with notice of meeting dates distributed via email.

Diversity & Equity in Social Work: Engaging the Learning Edge Workshop

As a condition of admission, all first year MSW students are required to take an interactive workshop that explores key issues and strategies to address diversity and equity in social work practice and education. Issues of diversity, power, equity & inclusion are core to social work practice and require capacities in terms of awareness, knowledge and skills applied in a range of practice settings. The “Diversity & Equity in Social Work: Engaging the Learning Edge Workshop” identifies core competencies in each of these areas and provides a foundational analysis of the impact of systemic and micro-level power relations.

Diversity & Equity Resource List

During our Fall 2020 introductory conference for first year MSW students, participants formed small break out groups facilitated by second-year students and alumni to discuss materials, sent out over the summer, related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. For those who did not receive these materials or participate in the discussions, we are making them available to you here. Our hope is that conversations will continue outside of orientation, and permeate classrooms, practicum settings, dinner tables and workplaces.

Equity Advising 

FIFSW’s Student Advisor on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion provides confidential consultations and a supportive environment for discussion and problem solving and to generate strategies and address concerns. The Advisor is available by appointment to meet with students, faculty and staff on sensitive and challenging diversity and equity issues. Contact: fifsw.dei.advisor@utoronto.ca

Workshops and Special Events 

FIFSW and other offices within the University of Toronto regularly host workshops, discussions, gatherings and exhibitions to support life-long-learning, increase awareness, build competencies, and foster inclusion. Events are shared with FIFSW students via the FIFSW student e-digest, which is sent out to all students every Friday. Examples of past events include: “Adopting an Anti-Islamophobia Lens,” “Navigating Systems as a Black MSW,” and the “Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) Potluck.”

Equity Resources at the University of Toronto

The University of Toronto has several equity offices that engage in outreach and education across all campuses and provide guidance on specific issues as they arise.

They include:

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) Office
  • Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office
  • Sexual & Gender Diversity Office
  • Office of Indigenous Initiatives

For a full listing and description of these offices, please consult the Human Resources and Equity site.

U of T Institutional Anti-Black Racism Task Force

Dean Dexter Voisin is a co-chair of the U of T Institutional Anti-Black Racism Task Force, which is capturing the experiences of Black students, faculty, staff and librarians, as well as other community members, to help identify and address the barriers faced by Black community members in order to promote Black inclusion and excellence. The work of the task force will build on previous anti-Black racism reports and initiatives, identify gaps and offer actionable recommendations to address Black racial inequities within the tri-campus community. A final report will be presented to Meric Gertler, U of T’s president, Cheryl Regehr, vice-president and provost, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice-president, human resources and equity, by March 31, 2021. The Task Forces was launched in September 2020.

National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities

National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education and Communities took place on October 1 and 2, 2020. The event brought together the University of Toronto and Canadian university and colleges across Canada to develop concrete actions for change. The National Dialogues are a series of national forums focused on addressing equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education.

Videos of the plenary talks and discussions, as well as all concurrent dialogues sessions, from October 1 & 2 can be viewed on the University of Toronto’s website.

Recent FIFSW initiatives

Racial Sensitivity Training
In 2019, faculty and staff recently completed a series of learning modules with Dr. Ken Hardy on Racial Sensitivity. Ongoing conversations in this area are critical to us growing and evolving as individuals and as a Faculty. The Diversity and Equity Committee has been in conversations with Dr. Hardy on how best to institutionalize the gains from these learning sessions. Since the workshops, we have had two student intergroup dialogues and two faculty discussions. Faculty members are now exploring opportunities to further decolonize work within FIFSW.

Indigenous Cultural Competency Training
In the spring of 2020, the Faculty engaged the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) to offer Indigenous Cultural Competency Training to 60 FIFSW students and 10 staff. These workshops provided participants with the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge, attitudes and values to foster meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities. Those who attended gained new insights into Canada’s history and learned to how to be better allies today.

Curriculum Committee
A specific focus of FIFSW’s new Curriculum and Innovation Committee will be to investigate where content is missing and how to better integrate new content and processes that reflect a diverse perspectives and ways of knowing. The committee will be seeking student input as part of this exercise.

The Lee Wu Kee Ming Chair in Indigenous Social Work
Announced this spring, the Lee Wu Kee Ming Chair in Indigenous Social Work will enable the Faculty to seek and appoint an eminent Indigenous scholar with a distinguished program of research focused on developing policy, service or solutions specific to Indigenous communities. This newly created position will provide a distinctive and highly visible voice of leadership, bolstering support for social work professionals who serve Indigenous populations.

The Lee Wu Kee Ming Chair in Indigenous Social Work will work proactively with communities, government organizations and agencies to develop innovative solutions to confront the marked inequities that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The Chair will also facilitate the implementation of Indigenous-related research into policy and practice.

Public Discourse
Faculty members are increasingly speaking out publicly on issues related to diversity and equity. Recent examples include (but are not limited to) Associate Professor Tanya Sharpe’s 30@8:30 series, presented by her research centre The CRIB on Instagram Live and Zoom, and Associate Professor Carmen Logie’s new podcast on Stigma. Faculty have also been using their voice to speak out in the media on issues — such as anti-Black racism, blood donor policies that discriminate against men who have sex with men, xenophobia’s role in shaping public perception of the pandemic, ageism and homophobia. This has included an op-ed on systemic racism by Dean Voisin in the Toronto Star.

Student communication
Efforts to increase communication with students has included:

  • Student dinners
  • Monthly open office hours for any student, faculty and staff to meet with the Dean
  • Fall, winter, spring and summer email updates from the Dean
  • Weekly updates from the ADA office
  • Monthly meetings between student leadership and the Associate Dean, Academic