Students contribute to London's diversity and inclusion strategy
December 17, 2020
CityStudio London held their HUBBUB, a celebratory digital showcase and networking event featuring the students and projects making London more liveable, sustainable and joyful on December 17, 2020. During the virtual event, students from King’s Disability Studies and School of Social Work presented their work as part of the City of London Project: Implementing London’s Community Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (CDIS).
Dr. David Malloy, King’s Principal, was one of the speakers at the event. The involvement of King’s students with CityStudio “has enabled them to test theories, skills, creativity, and their entrepreneurial spirit that they’ve acquired in the classroom to real world scenarios. This experiential learning is so important to King’s as a place for students to be and to become,” said Dr. Malloy. The full video of Dr. Malloy’s speech can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf_e7zODG2A.
School of Social Work
Social Work students presented two posters and policy reports in the HUBBUB. Students from the 270 section of SW3308: The Political, Economic and Social Context of Canadian Social Work Practice, created a poster based on the topic Building Community: Barriers to Employment for Visible Minorities in London while students from the 271 section created a poster on the topic of Removing Barriers: Understanding the Adverse Effects of Credentialism and Covert Racism on the Wellbeing of Newcomers to London.
In each section, the Social Work students were divided into two groups. Each group worked on a specific City of London strategy for immigrant (visible minorities and European) and visible minority population (immigrants and those born in Canada) integration in London. Each group was then further broken down into subgroups to focus on barriers based on education and training, work experience(s) and social support.
In addition to the posters, each subgroup wrote a policy report that was presented to the city. Some of the groups provided their PowerPoint presentation to the City’s working group.
“Due to the aging demographics in London recruiting and retaining immigrants requires making London safe for all Londoners – immigrants, refugees, and visible minorities. Further, every province and city are competing to address skilled labour shortage. For the economic prosperity of London, it is necessary that we understand the barriers that immigrants, refugees, and visible minorities are experiencing in their social and economic integration,” says Dr. Bharati Sethi, Associate Professor of the School of Social Work.
“The incorporation of the City Studio Project in Dr. Sethi’s course this year demonstrates not only the versatility of Social Work skills, but the School’s relationship with our community. The signature pedagogy of Social Work education is field education - the opportunity for students to apply knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom to real life. This type of experiential learning through coursework is a creative extension of this and exemplifies a tagline used in a recent educational campaign by the Ontario Association of Social Workers, ‘Social Workers: Real Experts for Real Life.’ This project has resulted in a true win-win situation; our students are gaining invaluable experience in the policy-making arena and the city is gaining concrete evidence-based recommendations to guide their work,” says Dr. Peter Donahue, Associate Professor and Director of King’s School of Social Work.
UPDATE: As part of the City Studio Event, students from the 270 section of SW3308: The Political, Economic and Social Context of Canadian Social Work Practice were awarded the Community Choice Award in the City Studio Experiential education and civic engagement project for their poster based on the topic Building Community: Barriers to Employment for Visible Minorities in London. See the poster here.
Meanwhile, students of DS2224: Approaches to Research Methods have been working on their project for approximately two months. They split into three teams to develop a research proposal and plan London’s CDIS, including a background literature review, a research proposal, an ethics application, and a list of potential funders to support both the research and potential research outcomes.
The King’s students from Disability Studies collaborated with the CDIS Priority 4 working group at the City of London. Their work focused on “Removing accessibility barriers to services, information and spaces,” on an initiative to rethink access through an intersectional lens: considering the unique access challenges experienced by people who are both disabled and members of another marginalized social group (i.e., women, LGBTQIA, religious minorities, low income, etc.).
The study King’s Disability Studies students designed is guided by an emancipatory research approach, which centres the lived experiences of people in these communities and adopts an explicitly political motivation and justice orientation. These projects have set the foundation for a future study investigating the unique experiences of Londoners who live at these intersections.
“Many students in the class have expressed interest in continuing to work on this project beyond the end of this semester. At the HUBBUB, our community partners will have the opportunity to explore the work the students generated this term. We are hopeful that they will be interested in moving forward with the study our class has proposed. Next steps would involve submitting the ethics and funding applications,” says Dr. Erika Katzman, Assistant Professor of Disability Studies.
Dr. Katzman says the literature review students completed highlights the need for research that identifies the particular access needs of specific individuals and communities. “I believe this research will shed light on the access needs of underserved communities. Identifying these needs is a first step to ensuring that the access needs of diverse communities are understood and addressed,” she says.
CityStudio London was launched in 2019 as a collaboration between the City of London, Brescia University, Fanshawe College, Huron University, King’s University College, Western University, and the Pillar Nonprofit Network. By furthering connections between City Hall, academic institutions, and local community, London's post-secondary students have more meaningful opportunities to apply their skills, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit to real-world issues and challenges facing our community and help shape a better and brighter future for all Londoners.