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Queen's University

Key Terms

These definitions inform current approaches to educational equity at Queen's University as outlined by the Queen's Senate Policy on Educational Equity.


Climate refers to the prevailing social and cultural attitudes, standards or conditions of a place. Climate includes the effects of explicit, formally institutionalized policies, as well as the effects of a range of informal practices and implicit policies that, despite their relative subtlety and variability, and the fact that they may not be intended as such, contribute to the social and cultural conditions created within the environment.


Curriculum encompasses all formal learning in the educational setting. Formal learning happens through institutional content and methodology (pedagogy) and is informed by official policies governing admissions, evaluations, standards, and accreditation. Informal learning occurs through the social and environmental contexts in which the learners find themselves.

Designated Groups

Designated Groups in Canada refers to women, members of visible minorities (racialized groups), Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and such other groups as may be included in the definition of “designated groups” in the Employment Equity Act, Statutes of Canada 1995, c. 46, as amended from time to time. The following definitions are drawn from this act but reflect language adopted in the Queen’s Equity Census:

  • Aboriginal peoples
    An Aboriginal Person is a North American Indian, Métis or Inuit, or a member of a North American First Nation. An Aboriginal Person may be a treaty status or a non-status, registered or non-registered Indian.
  • Members of visible minorities/racialized groups
  • A member of a visible minority/racialized group is someone (other than an Aboriginal person as defined above) who self-identifies as non-white in colour or non-Caucasian in racial origin, regardless of place of birth or citizenship
  • Persons with disabilities
    A person with a disability has a long term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and:
     considers himself/herself to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment; or
     believes that an employer or potential employer is likely to consider him/her to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment

This definition also includes persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace.


Although the status of women within the public sphere has improved over the last few years, women continue to be under-represented in some employment and educational fields.


Discrimination means any form of unequal treatment based on one of the following grounds, whether imposing extra burdens or denying benefits: age, creed/religion, gender identity, sexual preference, family status, marital status, disability (both physical and mental), race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, colour, social condition or any analogous ground. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve direct actions that are discriminatory on their face, or it may involve rules, practices or procedures that appear neutral, but have the effect of disadvantaging certain groups of people based on the grounds named. Discrimination may take obvious forms, or it may occur in very subtle ways.


Diversity in an institutional context refers to the condition of including and accounting for the academic, educational, and/or career development needs and realities of students, staff and faculty belonging to varying social identity groups.

Educational Equity

Equity in an educational institution is achieved when all members of our society have fair and equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of an education, including the opportunity to experience success and human dignity while developing the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to contribute as leaders and citizens in society.


Environment refers to the physical place as well as the surrounding social and cultural attitudes, standards and conditions that influence the milieu. Consequently, environment includes the climate as well as the physical surroundings and the conditions of work or study present in the institution. This encompasses not only the buildings and facilities, but also the services available, including support services such as counselling, advisory, health, residences, libraries, media and technologies, and extracurricular activities such as clubs, sponsored events, and sport activities.

View the Queen’s Educational Equity policy online at


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000