Racial Inequality in Higher Education Virtual Conference
The year 2020 was marked worldwide by public outcry in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among countless others. On both sides of the Atlantic, millions turned out in massive demonstrations against white supremacy, police brutality, and racial injustice. In the months since, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked a global examination of conscience at an individual and institutional level … but to what extent do anti-racist trainings and diversity statements reflect a road map for real change?
The conversation of racial inequality is particularly profound at the level of institutions of higher education. Long known as vehicles of knowledge, innovation, and social change, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are not exempt from criticism when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and equity. Colleges and universities in the USA and the European Union both face challenges in expanding access to higher education to underrepresented groups. While many European higher education institutions have added socioeconomic and gender diversity strategies to their diversity agendas, racial inequality often remains unaddressed and unaccounted for. On the other side of the Atlantic, U.S. HEIs have maintained a strong data collection culture and long included racial diversity in their DEI strategy, but still struggle to provide truly equitable experiences to students. On both sides of the Atlantic, robust study abroad and international exchange programs like the Fulbright Program and Erasmus+ provide life-changing opportunities to a diverse range of students at the undergraduate and graduate level, but still fail to reach their full potential as a tool for equity.