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February 2016

Encouraging Dialogues on Diversity in the Classroom

Dear Colleagues,

One of the greatest joys of living, working, or studying in a community such as King’s, is the diversity that exists within our community. Our diversity has many different faces and expressions including, but not limited to: age, colour, culture, disability/non-disability status, ethnic or linguistic origin, gender, health status, heritage, immigration status, geographic origin, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, political orientation, gender and sexual identities, and socioeconomic status.

This diversity creates many exciting opportunities to better understand not only each other, but to explore new ways of seeing and approaching issues. In social work this translates into our work with our clients and colleagues, community organizing, program development, management and administration, social policy, research, and advocacy.

With these opportunities also come challenges. Every day we are bombarded with reports of oppression, discrimination and violence people are facing as a result of their diversity, identities, beliefs and values. For example, as a result of recent world events, Muslims in Canada and across the world are experiencing what has been referred to as “Islamophobia”; the prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims.

Guided by the principles of fundamental human rights and responsibilities and respect for human diversity, social work education and practice seeks to facilitate well-being and participation of people, promote social and economic justice, address structural sources of inequities, and eliminate conditions that infringe human and civil rights.

In order to facilitate the above goals, it is important that we create safe and respectful spaces in our community, including our classrooms. I would challenge us all to provide opportunities for dialogue and reflection with regards to these important issues, as they not only impact our social work practice, but many of us on a personal level.

To quote Romeo Leblanc on his first day as Governor General of Canada, “When we only talk among ourselves, all we get back are echoes. But when we talk with others of a different mind, we are made to think. And it is in thinking that we learn, and in learning that we grow.




Peter Donahue, Director
School of Social Work

Endorsed by Social Work School Council – January 14, 2016