The Urgency of Intersectionality for Addressing Systemic Inequities in Higher Learning

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The Urgency of Intersectionality for Addressing Systemic Inequities in Higher Learning

June 16, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

The W21C Research and Innovation CentreO’Brien Institute for Public Health, and the Cumming School of Medicine’s Office of Professionalism, Equity, and Diversity present a talk with:

Dr. Tonya D. Callaghan, PhD, (she/they), Associate Professor, Killam and SSHRC Scholar, Academic Coordinator of Advancing Healthy & Socially Just Schools & CommunitiesWerklund School of Education, University of Calgary.

In her 2016 TED Talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the African American law professor who coined the term “intersectionality” observed: “We all know that when there’s no name for a problem, you can’t see a problem, and when you can’t see a problem you pretty much can’t solve it.” The problem Crenshaw is talking about here is multiple forms of discrimination based on layers of difference. I will define what it means to take an intersectional approach when supporting the learning needs of students enrolled in contentious courses that actively address equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues. The Werklund School of Education’s undergraduate course, Diversity in Learning, has been held up as an EDI exemplar and I will be drawing from my experience leading this course to talk about ways we all can move towards inclusive and equitable teaching practices. I will conclude by overtly addressing the toll such work can take on those of us who actively teach EDI topics and what allies can do to support us.

By the end of this session, participants will:

• Define intersectionality and why it is so urgent for EDI in post-secondary contexts

• Consider ways to support the learning needs of students in EDI focused courses

• Identify ways to support scholars who actively teach or research EDI topics

About the speaker:

Tonya Callaghan is an Associate Professor with University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education. They taught secondary English for over ten years in Canadian and international schools, in rural and urban settings, and in Catholic and non-Catholic systems. Their second monograph, Homophobia in the Hallways: Heterosexism and Transphobia in Canadian Catholic Schools was published in 2018 with the University of Toronto Press. Dr. Callaghan was recognized for their outstanding commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at the University of Calgary with the 2020 EDI Award. Dr. Callaghan was also honoured with two UCalgary Curriculum Development Awards for designing and coordinating an undergraduate course titled Diversity in Learning and a Master of Education program titled Advancing Healthy & Socially Just Schools & Communities, both of which actively promote EDI principles. Their research in the field of EDI explores Catholic resistance to anti-homophobia/transphobia education in both curriculum and educational policy.



O’Brien Institute for Public Health
W21C Research and Innovation Centre