Pictured are (clockwise): Dr. Jane McMillan, Cheyla Rogers, Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, Jennifer Fraser, Minister of Science and Sport Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser.

ANTIGONISH: Taking part in a post-secondary transformation, StFX University has reaffirmed its commitment to making its research culture more diverse and inclusive by joining a federal government’s pilot project.

The Dimensions Program and Charter reflects a made-in-Canada initiative inspired by the UK Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network), which is an internationally recognized initiative that celebrates higher education institutions that have implemented practices to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in the sciences.

“By choosing to endorse this charter, StFX has committed to adopting eight principles throughout our practices and culture to achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion,” Dr. Richard Isnor, StFX Associate VP, Research and Graduate Studies told The Reporter last week. “As the research leader at the university, it’s my role to be pro-active and encouraging all of the university community, to think about how they can become more inclusive.”

Dimensions aims to address systemic barriers, particularly those experienced by members of under-represented or disadvantaged groups, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.

“At first it’s an important symbolic and leadership statement by the university that we are committed to diversity and inclusion in our research efforts and it underlies efforts that we are taking right now at the university,” Isnor said. “To see if we have gaps in terms of policies or whether we have practices that are embedded in our culture that perhaps are creating barriers to performance of research by women or under-represented groups in the research enterprise.”

Dimensions recognizes that a multiplicity of perspectives, lived experiences and the overall complexity of diverse individuals foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector. The program takes a multidimensional approach to equity, diversity and inclusion to achieve a future research community where all can thrive.

StFX joins 38 other Canadian universities in endorsing the program’s charter to date that calls on the schools to address systemic barriers to recruitment, retention and career advancement of under-represented groups.