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Inclusion in the classroom

The Centre for Teaching and Learning is working to ensure curriculum meets the needs of Queen’s diverse student body.

[Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning]
Klodiana Kolomitro and Ian Fanning of the Centre for Teaching and Learning will play a key role in examining curriculum through the lens of diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation efforts. (University Communications)

The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is looking at all of Queen’s curriculum and asking the question, “How do we ensure it is reflective of the inclusive community we are striving to create?”

Following recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI), and the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) task force, faculties, schools and departments are embarking on a curriculum review to ensure that racialized students, Indigenous students, and all students of diverse backgrounds and identities see themselves reflected.

That review process is part of the CTL’s mandate, which is to ensure quality teaching and build teaching and educational leadership capacity at Queen’s.

“To create a more inclusive learning environment, we are working on a number of initiatives that will ensure that our curriculum reflects the diverse viewpoints and experiences of a greater proportion of our community,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “By taking steps to ensure the inclusion of content reflecting the experiences and perspectives of diverse groups, including Indigenous students and racialized students, we can begin to reduce barriers to education and create a more welcoming university for all.”

To better equip the CTL team as they work to enhance curriculum, the centre’s staff have taken courses centred on mental health awareness, creating positive space, trans-inclusion, and cultural safety training. In addition, the whole team participated in a KAIROS blanket exercise designed to help explain the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The CTL is also ensuring it has the right leadership in place within the unit on diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation matters. Klodiana Kolomitro, an Educational Developer in the CTL, has been appointed as the centre’s specialist on equity and inclusivity in curriculum. Educational developers like Dr. Kolomitro work closely with educators to cultivate inclusive teaching and assessment practices that reflect our students’ experiences and create space for imagining alternatives.

“The curriculum that we design can be a powerful vehicle for asking courageous questions, examining our assumptions and academic practices, and truly recognizing the limits of our own knowledge,” says Dr. Kolomitro. “If we decide on one curriculum, we must consider whose voices are heard, what knowledge and worldview is privileged over others, and why that is? I am really looking forward to enhancing inclusive excellence, and supporting all Queen's educators in developing a curriculum that encourages relevance, meaning, and accessibility.”

Complementing Dr. Kolomitro’s work, the CTL recently hired Ian Fanning as the centre’s first Indigenous curriculum developer. Dr. Fanning will be responsible for the creation and delivery of professional development programming on Indigenous knowledge, ways of knowing, and anti-colonial training at the individual, unit, department, and faculty levels.

He will also facilitate consultations with educators and educational support professionals to build capacity and provide leadership in the area of Indigenous curriculum development across the university. Dr. Fanning will work closely with the Director of Indigenous Initiatives, the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and other Indigenous support professionals on campus.

The centre isn’t just investing in its own learning – they are also sharing what they know with the broader community. In March, the CTL hosted a workshop to provide educators with strategies for providing classroom and supervisory experiences that are inclusive of transgender students. This follows similar workshops on Indigenous cultural awareness in the classroom, and building inclusive learning environments.

The efforts to incorporate diversity into the learning environment do not stop at matters of curriculum. To address recommendations in the PICRDI Report, the Provost has also struck a subgroup of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Teaching and Learning to revise the Teaching and Learning action plan and the Queen’s Learning Outcomes Framework through the lenses of diversity, inclusivity, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

These efforts to diversify Queen’s curriculum align with the recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report and the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force final report.

“We recognize that our community contains many diverse identities, and having a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures is important for our learners as they join increasingly diverse work and study environments.” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “We are striving to promote an inclusive living and learning environment here at Queen’s, and we are committed to continuous improvement through dialogue and engagement with all members of our community.”

To learn more about upcoming teaching and learning sessions, visit the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s website