Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute Launches Feminist University Initiative

The Critical Feminist Activism and Research Project Will Foster Gender and Racial Diversity

Concordia launched the Critical Feminist Activism and Research initiative Friday evening. Photo Daren Zomerman

After a year of consultations on the topic of diversity and inclusivity on campus, Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute held a launch and community call-in event for their Critical Feminist Activism and Research initiative Friday evening.

Approximately 30 people were present at the event to hear about the work that has been done at C-FAR in the past year, and to strategize what the next steps are for the future.

The project was started by SdBI principal Kimberley Manning as part of her vision for a “feminist university,” an institution where feminism, inclusivity and diversity are built into every aspect of the curriculum and the administration.

The goal, Manning said, is to find ways to “incorporate these values into the school’s functioning,” so they are looking to go further than policy changes.

“What the research is telling us is that seems to be a way to kind of get away from having to actually deal with the problem, it’s kind of an add-on,” she said.

Those doing research as part of C-FAR will look to address the lack of racial and gender diversity at the root of Concordia’s institution, while also fostering the community and cross-disciplinary collaboration. C-FAR hopes to do this by supporting faculty or graduate initiatives or research projects that further the goal of equity in the Concordia community and beyond, and by compensating those who do that work.

“The idea is that everybody who’s engaged in equity activism at the university needs to be compensated in some way for this work,” said Manning. That compensation can be course credits or research grants and stipends.

“What we’ve been trying to do is come up with some ways to integrate the work into […] what it means to be a faculty [member] or student here at Concordia,” she said.

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Science, André Roy explained the faculty sponsored the initiative because the values of C-FAR mirror those of the Arts and Science faculty.

“We also operate from a principle of convergence, that is we like things that leverage one another. So we’re very pleased to be supportive of C-FAR,” he said. “We’re ecstatic about the program that’s being shaped as we speak.”

Some of the upcoming projects that C-FAR is involved with are the university’s first Pride event, Fierté en hiver, and an Artist-in-Residence in the context of Black history month, both taking place in February 2018.

The Feminist University seminar, a year-long 400-level course offered by the SdBI that permits undergraduate students to become involved in social action research, is also a project that has come out of C-FAR.

The project is meant to benefit the students and faculty at Concordia, but it also means the university will need to step up and provide the required assistance to make the goal a reality.

“Eventually we’d like to see an equity office but that is not the end of the work, that is just a small part of what we need to see happen at this university,” Manning said. “And really what we would need right now, quite frankly, is leadership from the institution saying this is a priority for Concordia. That’s the first thing that we need to have happen.”