What does the concept of diversity do in higher education and universities? Feminist author Sara Ahmed, who wrote extensively about racism, sexism, difference, strangerness, and institutions, discusses the concept of diversity in relation to higher education.
Diversity is something one needs to do – at least, if one follows the title of the report of the Diversity Committee at the University of Amsterdam, Let’s do diversity (pdf), published last year. The report, which recommended the University to install a Diversity Unit, received a lot of attention – both positive and negative. Yet, many universities and higher education institutes already have a diversity policy and work with diversity officers. Among them the Vrije Universiteit, Leiden University and Erasmus University.
In universities, the word and concept of diversity is ‘in use’. In this lecture, Sara Ahmed will discuss how understanding how and why diversity is 'in use' as a word and concept allows us to explore how universities are shaped by patterns of use that often go unnoticed. She will be drawing on her research into diversity work first discussed in her book, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012) as well as her current research on the 'uses of use.'