For the second year in a row, the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award was launched within the network to highlight innovative and successful inclusion and diversity interventions. The objective of the award is to identify and exchange good practices and to advance the Aurora network’s vision of equal opportunities for staff and students.
Universities can sometimes seem to be operating within an elitist bubble in which we interact and share knowledge with those similar to ourselves. This risks widening the separation of different groups in society. It also threatens the basic premise of what science is about: providing facts rather than biased views on the complex problems societies now face. The nine universities in the Aurora stand against the idea of universities as elitist bubbles. Aurora universities believe that the only way to achieve true integration of different groups in society is to provide higher education to talents from various different backgrounds.
The second edition of the award has resulted in a higher number of nominations in comparison to last year, proving the commitment towards an inclusive and egalitarian study and work environment. The following projects were nominated for the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award 2018:
1. Mammaforum, University of Gothenburg
Mammaforum is an NGO which works with newly immigrated pregnant women and new mothers in Gothenburg, Sweden. These women are often not introduced to language education provided by municipalities. A language barrier can render these women unable to make essential decisions about their health and that of their children. The objective of this project is to enhance Swedish language skills of these women while giving our students hands-on experience teaching the subject Swedish as a second language. Mammaforum has developed an infrastructure within the teaching program that promotes agility and flexibility while supporting a transformative change to members of marginalized groups.
2. Taalmaat, University of Antwerp
‘Taalmaat’ creates the opportunity for prep-year students to practice every day Dutch with peers in an informal and realistic setting. The Dutch students are enrolled in different levels of study at the University of Antwerp (UoA), from Bachelor to Phd. They are volunteers at Taalmaat. The prep-year students are enrolled in the preparatory one-year programme ‘Dutch as a Foreign Language in an Academic Context’. Each year, 35 to 50 students of more than 25 nationalities enrol in this ambitious programme. Taalmaat means language buddy and the project brings native Dutch speaking and international prep-year students together in order to practice the Dutch language. The strength of Taalmaat lies in the enthusiasm of the students and the combination of different types of activities.
3. Project Track, University of Duisburg-Essen
Project TRACK was started in 2016 as an initiative to help young refugees learn German. It has been very successful in promoting enthusiasm for the German language in young refugees by fusing sports, play, and physical education with the analytical practice of language learning. Project TRACK’s success can be witnessed from the fact that the young refugees who at first had no knowledge of German, blossom into German speakers who are able to navigate an otherwise dense language structure in a quicker way than usual, and with far more ease.
Student participation was also fortified by involving students from the University of Antwerp in designing a trophy for the number one project. The winner, Arwen Raes has designed a sustainable and aesthetically alluring trophy in the shape of a baton, emphasizing the aspect of collaboration and transfer of valuable ideas in the field of diversity.
The winning project of the second edition of the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award was Mammaforum. One representative of the project will be given the opportunity to visit a partner university of choice, to learn from each other’s projects and explore possible ways of collaboration. The expenses of the trip will be covered by the Aurora network.
The Taalmaat project was given the second place and project Track came in third. Both received a certificate given by the jury.
Just like the first year, a selection of entries has been bundled in a booklet. It is our hope that this publication will spark creativity and generate new ideas on how to improve diversity and inclusion in higher education.