Making research more inclusive for all

Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A diverse group of students researchers

The Office of the Vice-President, Research works to foster a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

Psychology professor Virginie Cobigo founded a social enterprise that hires people with cognitive disabilities to help researchers and technology developers improve the accessibility of their products and services. Eva Ottawa, a professor in the Civil Law Section, works closely with the Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok of Manawan, Que., to develop models that ensure a better coexistence of Indigenous and Western legal traditions, especially where opikihawasowin or the customary care of children is concerned.

Professors Cobigo and Ottawa are the winners of the More Inclusion, Better Research: Inspiring Stories Competition organized by the Office of the Vice-President, Research (OVPR). Stay tuned for more on their projects in the coming weeks.

The competition is one of many initiatives aiming to promote EDI in research at the University of Ottawa as the OVPR gets ready to launch its EDI Action Plan for Research later in the fall. The plan is being developed in consultation with the EDI Advisory Committee for Research, which is composed of 13 members of the University’s research community, including representatives of five underrepresented groups (women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities/racialized persons, LGBTQI2S+, persons with disabilities).

The Committee’s role includes advising on EDI priorities and objectives, identifying EDI-related barriers that impact the recruitment, retention, and advancement of researchers, and recommending strategies to address these barriers, among other responsibilities. Their recommendations draw on extensive consultations with various stakeholders, including the University’s Special Advisor on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, faculty vice-deans, research and research advisors, and Canada Research Chairs.

“The Committee is recommending tangible actions we will take to foster and grow a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in research, in line with commitments defined in Transformation 2030 and our Strategic Research Plan,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research. “EDI must be a value that is part of our fibre, a source of strength in scholarship, research, and innovation. Our goal is to create an environment where we all feel included and where we can reach our full potential.”

The OVPR has just recently launched a website on EDI in research, which lists best practices and resources for researchers, as well as uOttawa experts on EDI. Since the beginning of the year, it has also hosted virtual panel discussions on the challenges faced by women and girls in science, on encouraging gender and sexual diversity in research, and on research with, by, and for Indigenous peoples.

 

Members of the EDI Advisory Committee for Research:

  • Terry Campbell, Chair and Assistant Vice-President, Research Operations and Strategies
  • Lori Beaman, Faculty of Arts 
  • Steffany Bennett, President’s Special Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion 
  • Jaclyn Brusso, Faculty of Science 
  • Jude Mary Cénat, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Marie-Hélène Chomienne, Institut du Savoir Montfort
  • Aimée Craft, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
  • Philippe Thierry Douamba, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice-President, Research  
  • Diego Herrera, EDI Advisor for Research  
  • Ghassan Jabbour, Faculty of Engineering  
  • Levent Sahin, Student, MSc in Epidemiology  
  • Penelope Simons, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section  
  • Kednapa Thavorn, Faculty of Medicine 
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