Promoting Diverse and Inclusive Universities and Classrooms
Universities, like any other institution, are not naturally or inherently ‘open’. It is by now accepted that going to university is often a step into an alien world for a number of people because of their class, gender or race. People who are refugees or asylum seekers can experience similar forms of alienation. Universities are not hermetically sealed from the social hierarchies and inequalities of the outside world, and a lack of reflection on these issues can lead to students of different backgrounds failing to succeed in universities.
REIs is focused not only in getting students into universities but in giving them every opportunity to flourish while they are there. The academic skills and introduction to university teaching that students will gain through REIs education programs will help, but there are broader pedagogical and administrative issues at hand. REIs will seek to build communities of practice among university administrators and academics throughout Europe to develop inclusive pedagogic and administrative practices.
Working with its students and with experts in the field from around Europe, REIs aims to cultivate university environments that values and fosters diversity. Bringing this issue up in university agendas and public debates focuses then on the question of the production of knowledge. What institutional factors currently impede the co-production of knowledge in universities? What needs to be done so that people from different social backgrounds may take part in the production of knowledge? People from different social backgrounds can shed light on social and other issues that often fall under the radar of European research and teaching. A more inclusive university will expand what we know.