Inclusion in Action returns with a talk on environmental racism

Heading into its second year, U of T’s Inclusion in Action Speaker Series hosts local and international experts, academics, and advocates to increase dialogue and understanding of equity, accessibility, and inclusion in post-secondary environments. Created with the aim of dismantling attitudes and processes that uphold ongoing exclusion and marginalization, the series uses an intersectional lens to explore specific, complex and timely conversations with our campus communities.

This year’s series kicks off on November 30 with a talk from Dr. Ingrid Waldron on the relationship between environmental racism and climate change inequities. Dr. Waldron is Professor and HOPE Chair in Peace and Health in the Global Peace and Social Justice program at McMaster University; the Founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health Project (The ENRICH Project); and the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Canadian Coalition for Environmental and Climate Justice (CCECJ).

“We are excited to have Dr. Waldron speak to the U of T community about the deep links between racism and the climate crisis,” said David Pereira, Acting Director, Sexual & Gender Diversity Office. “The planet is experiencing environmental crisis and related human suffering on an increasing scale. Now more than ever, it is important for us to understand how anti-racism, climate justice and other movements are connected and what positive actions we can take at the University and in our communities.”

Dr. Ingrid Waldron

Dr. Ingrid Waldron

With Dr. Waldron’s talk, “Centering Justice and Human Rights in What We Say and Do About Environmental Racism and Climate Change Inequities,” event organizers look forward to building on the success of the inaugural season of Inclusion in Action. In 2022-23, the Institutional Equity Office and U of T Mississauga’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office hosted three events – including one developed in collaboration with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives – with more than 200 students, faculty, librarians, and staff attending each talk.

“The inaugural year of the Inclusion in Action Speaker Series brought an exciting series of guest speakers into conversation with U of T community members to engage with topics that are sparking public discourse,” said Allison Burgess, Acting Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. “The conversations pushed beyond the content of our everyday work or studies and challenged us, collectively, to think in new ways about these important and of-the-moment topics. We had a great turnout at each of the events, and we look forward to engaging even bigger audiences with our second season for the series.”

The 2022-23 series began with Dr. Sheelah McLean and Dr. Alex Wilson presenting on the topic, “Examining Whiteness in Higher Education” in December 2022. The session called on participants to self-reflect on how whiteness as a system is upheld through attitudes and actions within the working and learning environment, and to consider ways to challenge these attitudes and actions on both individual and interpersonal levels.

Dr. Sheelah McLean

Dr. Sheelah McLean

Dr. Alex Wilson

Dr. Alex Wilson

In April 2023, our community heard from author, poet, comedian, and public speaker Alok Vaid-Menon. Their session, “Beyond the Gender Binary: Stories Told and Strategies Shared,” challenged participants to consider how attitudes and actions related to gender binaries impact us all individually, interpersonally, and systemically.

Finally, in June 2023, Dr. Sami Schalk joined a panel of U of T community members to critically analyze how ableism manifests and can be disrupted in working and learning environments. During “Understanding Black Disability Justice: Advancing Disability Justice in Postsecondary Context,” Schalk shared practical strategies for embedding disability justice within teaching and learning environments.

Alok Vaid-Menon

Alok Vaid-Menon

Dr. Sami Schalk

Dr. Sami Schalk

Register now for this year’s first Inclusion in Action event, “Centering Justice and Human Rights in What We Say and Do About Environmental Racism and Climate Change Inequities,” featuring Dr. Ingrid Waldon.