Increased participation of diverse equity-seeking students in international learning opportunities is the University of Alberta’s top priority for this innovation call. This diversity includes the following students: Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, students with disabilities, and students of faith communities.
Diverse equity-seeking students were historically under-represented in education abroad due to many challenges. The University is committed to removing the barriers posed by these challenges and increasing participation in education abroad by undertaking the following initiatives: developing innovative online EDI resources to address the issues and challenges faced by the diverse students; enhancing pre-departure support and services; and engaging education abroad participants and alumni as mentors for other equity seeking students.
The project will expand our identity abroad resources through the production of video resources, the implementation of a social media strategy using student influencers from our equity seeking student body, and refreshing our pre-departure material to ensure it engages diverse audiences.
As a start, the U of A has developed an Identity Abroad website to highlight key considerations and online resources for diverse students when planning for an education abroad program. However, much of the resources available online were US – based, making it necessary and urgent for us to create Canadian or U of A based resources which are more relevant and meaningful to our students. To address this gap, we completed a pilot project on a series of U of A based videos for racialized students which effectively address the challenges and strategies for black students. We are proposing to expand the video resources for the other equity-seeking groups.
In the expanded video collection, diverse students will share experiences associated with their identities in Canada and abroad, and recommend strategies for navigating identities abroad. The videos will be valuable and engaging tools for increasing prospective students’ awareness of and interest in work/study opportunities, reflecting on the issues and challenges identified in the videos, utilizing the recommended strategies to ensure their successful participation in programs abroad, as well as gaining meaningful and positive intercultural and personal experiences abroad.
The project will recruit a cohort of equity seeking students who are going abroad to be engaged in social media posts during their time abroad. Content from these posts will be incorporated into resources and the refresh of our online pre-departure orientation. Students will also serve as mentors and education abroad ambassadors when they return to campus from their international experience.