“Diversity in an Era of Polarization” was the fifth colloquium organized by the tripartite collaborative team of the University of the Free State (South Africa), Vrije Universiteit and UCLA.
UCLA International Institute, April 30, 2018 — In early February, Chancellor Gene Block led a UCLA delegation that attended a two-day research colloquium at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The colloquium was part of an ongoing collaborative research partnership on equity and diversity in higher education. “Diversity in an Era of Polarization” was the fifth colloquium organized by the tripartite collaborative team of the University of the Free State (South Africa), Vrije Universiteit and UCLA.
Initiated in 2014, the research collaboration has to date organized four previous colloquia at which faculty and leaders from the three universities examined, among other things, the diversification of university spaces and curricula and the ways in which different disciplines engage with diversity practices that successfully contribute to a socially just higher education environment. Select papers from the colloquia will appear in a forthcoming edited volume.
At a morning session open to the general public at the Amsterdam meeting, Chancellor Block took part in a conversation with his peers from the University of the Free State and Vrije Universiteit on how university leaders can support diversity in the face of contemporary political and social turbulence. Individual panels at the conference then addressed the diversity programs being developed at the three respective universities. Two keynote addresses examined the pursuit of diversity in the face of rising political polarization and the effect of hostile immigration policies on student success in the United States.
In addition to Chancellor Block, the UCLA delegation included Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement; Patricia Turner, senior dean, UCLA College and vice provost of undergraduate education; Charles Alexander, associate vice provost for student diversity and director, academic advancement program; and Abel Valenzuela, director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and professor of Chicana/o Studies and urban planning. All delegation members either chaired or presented research to individual panels.
“UCLA stresses the importance of scholars from different countries and departments coming together to collaborate on shared objectives. This research partnership in particular has served to further our understanding of diversity in higher education on three different continents: Africa, Europe and North America,” said Chancellor Block. “By learning from one another, we are bridging cultural differences and advancing mutual respect.”
UCLA will host the next colloquium in the collaborative research project in 2019.