Educational Equity in Canadian Academe: Implications of Neoliberal Discourse and Ideology

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al Shaibah, Arig
higher education , educational equity
Most, if not all, universities across Canada emphasize diversity, inclusivity, and equity in their missions, value statements, and institutional priorities. However, institutions of higher learning across Canada have yet to sufficiently challenge institutional discourse and culture in ways that truly move it and its members beyond passively articulating value for diversity to actively demonstrating commitments to inclusivity and equity. Universities struggle to achieve a range of educational equity goals across four domains: (a) improving access for historically underrepresented students, (b) fostering inclusive campus climates, (c) developing globally inclusive curricula, and (d) recruiting and retaining equity-seeking faculty and staff. Persistent challenges in implementing educational equity policy in Canadian academe suggest an imperative to critically examine whether and how the social, political, and economic forces of neoliberalism, as the prevailing ideology in Canada, complicate the educational equity policy process. In particular, I am interested in exploring whether and how the discourses of neoliberalism manifest in discursive practices of senior administrators and the implications for enacting change to achieve educational equity. The purpose of my research is fivefold: (1) to investigate the social, political, and cultural ideologies and discourses that dominate in the academy and influence the educational equity policymaking process; (2) to learn about the perspectives and practices of individual senior administrators in relation to educational equity; (3) to identify the thematic barriers and enablers to advancing educational equity, as perceived by senior administrators; (4) to identify discursive practices among senior administrators, in relation to educational equity; and (5) to consider the ways that senior administrators believe their social identities and positionalities influence their success advancing educational equity.
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