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Diversity and inclusion presentation

EB students give advice on diversity and inclusion

Published on 14-02-2024
How can we make Economics and Business (EB) more inclusive? It’s a question we’ve been trying to answer within the University of Amsterdam since 2022. How our students see the issue is important to us. That’s why the Diversity Committee freed up some resources for a consultancy project on the subject.
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Students, under the supervision of their mentor, were given the time and opportunity to formulate concrete advice for the organisation. The recommendations they came up with were presented on Wednesday, 24 January.

The student presentations suggested that many things are going well but there’s still room for improvement. There’s a need, among other things, for opportunities whereby students with a Dutch and a non-Dutch background can get together. It’s also important that the concept of diversity is defined more broadly: at present, a student’s cultural background is often considered key, even though gender and social class matter as well. There was also positive feedback with research showing that the Economics and Business programme is generally considered a pleasant study environment by students from a multicultural background. Students were unanimous in one thing: diversity and inclusion is something that should be addressed starting in the first year.

Student recommendations

The students who took part in the consultancy project explored various aspects of diversity and inclusion. Adél Seres and Ayush Mudunuru looked at how meetings between students of different nationalities could be better facilitated. This would help bridge the social gap between the two groups. One potential solution is an algorithm that links students up through the interests they have in common. The algorithm they developed for this purpose is currently being tested. Depending on the outcome, the algorithm is expected to be implemented in the first-year programme. That’s because in this year, English- and Dutch-speaking students are assigned to different study groups, so don’t get many opportunities to meet. The first year, more than any other, can create a good foundation for student interaction.

Another project participant, Giulia Prischich, pointed out that many students are not well-informed when it comes to the cultural values of fellow students. Diversity was seen as something to do with ethnicity and nationality and not as something that also touches on aspects like gender and social class. She discovered that there were many unfounded assumptions about fellow students, based on their ethnicity or nationality, and that other characteristics were ignored. And this leads to stereotypes. So how can this be solved? Prischich recommends discussing the complexity of cultural values as part of Skills Connect, a compulsory module for first-year students.

Hopeful

Although the investigations show that there’s substantial room for improvement, some hopeful voices can be heard as well. One example is an analysis by Aliza Nyah Kaligis. She examined the well-being of Dutch students with a multi-cultural background. Her findings led her to conclude that students are generally satisfied with their learning environment. They approve of the way UvA deals with diversity and inclusion. In addition, students who were interviewed advised against meetings that target individuals with a specific cultural background. Such gatherings are counterproductive because they increase the distance between students whereas the goal is to bring them closer together.

Follow-up

Diversity and inclusion will remain on UvA’s agenda. Going forward, the Diversity Committee will continue to ask students for input and put their recommendations on the EB Board’s agenda. These follow-up activities will help ensure that students are provided with an inclusive learning and working environment.