Diversity and Inclusion Project launched by UCD Staff and Students

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In educational spaces, there are always talks of the necessity of increasing diversity and inclusion. Indeed, the world of academia is in dire need of a larger variety of voices, perspectives, and accepted methodologies. UCD, like many other universities in Ireland, has pledged itself to fostering a culture of inclusion, dignity, and respect.

But beyond vague commitments to such ends, it can be hard to figure out what UCD is actually doing to practically foster an inclusive campus and promote diversity in academia. Two promising projects have been launched recently at the initiative of UCD faculty, students, and staff aimed at doing exactly that.

The first project is SEXTANT: Masculinities, Sexualities and Decolonialities, a new online academic journal created by members of UCD faculty and staff which released its first issue in May of 2023. It aims to shift understandings of subjects of masculinities, sexualities, and decolonialities while looking at the ways they intersect, especially in areas that are often overlooked. But not just the content of the journal is concerned with diversity and inclusivity. Scholars, students, activists, and artists are encouraged to publish their work in a wide variety of mediums - for instance, creative writing, art, video format, or digital projects, going beyond the classic formats of research papers, essays, or book reviews. This certainly breaks open the confines of academia, its accepted methodologies, and epistemologies. Submissions open twice a year (currently, submissions are open until May 20th); for students and artists at UCD looking to get published, the journal is certainly a promising opportunity.

The second project is the Digital Inclusive Map (DIM) of UCD, launched in February 2024, resulting from a collaboration between faculty and students. The DIM is a digital tool providing students, faculty, and staff with information about inclusive spaces (physical and online) on UCD’s Belfield campus. The categories according to which spaces are classified include Accessibility, LGBTQIA+, International students, Racial/Ethnic Minorities, Mature students, Parents/Carers, Health/Wellbeing, Spirituality/Faith, Safety, Financial equity, and partners of the DIM. According to the creators, it “celebrates the diversity of our campus and aligns with UCD’s culture of inclusion, dignity and respect and the aim to be a university for all”. Currently, the map details inclusive spaces on the Belfield campus only but the team behind the DIM encourages the UCD community to engage with it and provide feedback so it can be continuously updated.

These projects are certainly not the be-all-end-all of activism for diversity and inclusion at UCD. Indeed, as the team behind the DIM states, inclusion is an ongoing journey. Nevertheless, SEXTANT and the DIM are steps in the right direction and can be seen as tools to help us “progress to a more inclusive campus”. They are also testimonies to the transformative power and impact that initiatives by dedicated individuals can have in pushing forward the fight for breaking open the confines of academia and making UCD a more accepting and inclusive environment.