A diverse, welcoming university accepts and values students of many different races, ethnicities, ages, religions, and political views.
Diversity and inclusion are two of the most important strategic goals at Bocconi University in Italy. In 2020, Professor Catherine de Vries was chosen to be the school’s Dean for Diversity and Inclusion.
In her job, Professor de Vries works to make the school’s staff and students more different from each other.
Professor de Vries is giving a free online masterclass on the political effects of COVID-19 restrictions on January 24, 2022. Sign up here, or look at the full list of masterclasses at Bocconi University.
What constitutes a diverse environment?
A university with a lot of different kinds of students knows that each student is different and celebrates that.
Professor de Vries said, “Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t just be about numbers and checking boxes.” “It’s about putting in the hard work that’s needed to make work and study environments where students, faculty, and staff can be themselves and feel like they are heard.”
Bocconi University is in the middle of Europe. Its main campus is in Milan, an important city in Italy. As a part of the academic community in Europe, Bocconi University is committed to diversity and inclusion and works to make things better.
Professor de Vries, on the other hand, says that universities are not doing enough.
“In Europe, we’ve made a lot of progress in the past few years when it comes to the diversity of our students and employees. But that’s not enough, says Professor de Vries. We need to do more.
Why is it important to be different?
Professor de Vries says that promoting a diverse and inclusive culture makes it possible to fight against discrimination and for everyone to reach their full potential.
Professor de Vries said, “When it comes to diversity and inclusion in higher education, we definitely need to do more.” “When we look at senior and management positions, our academic institutions do not reflect the makeup of the societies we serve.”
As Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Professor de Vries has the chance to come up with and implement policies for inclusion at Bocconi University.
The Bocconi Inclusion Service helps put these policies into action, with a focus on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, learning disability, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic background.
Professor de Vries said, “Diversity and inclusion practices are important for academic institutions because they drive innovation, which is what academia is all about.” Research also shows that a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion makes people happier at work and helps students do better in school.
How can universities create environments where all students feel welcome and valued?
Universities must be proactive if they want to make an environment where all students feel welcome.
Bocconi University has put in place policies to support and promote social mobility, inclusion, diversity, and sustainability, as part of its commitment to do so. As part of these policies, the university has made the Bocconi community agree to a “Honor Code,” which includes a commitment to diversity and acceptance.
In her job, Professor de Vries helps with national programs in Italy and elsewhere in the EU that promote diversity and inclusion.
Closer to home, at Bocconi University, Professor de Vries encourages students and staff to talk about their needs and experiences. He also collects data on diversity and inclusion activities happening all over Bocconi. Then, all of this information is put into a report that will be posted online in 2022.
This will be the first in a series of reports that will track and record the university’s progress in terms of diversity and inclusion. Procedures at Bocconi are often looked at and changed to make sure they meet the needs and expectations of both students and staff.
Professor de Vries said, “We want to make diversity and inclusion a part of every day life at the university, and we carefully track our diversity goals with metrics.”
How has COVID-19 affected diversity and being open to everyone?
Professor de Vries is the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Bocconi University. She is also a professor of political science there. She talks about how COVID-19’s rules have made it worse for students to be treated differently.
She said, “Early research on the effects of coronavirus restrictions shows that students’ worries about their mental health have grown a lot during the pandemic.”
“Remote learning also requires resources that aren’t shared equally, which may have made things worse between students.
“This could have a long-term effect on inequality and social exclusion, which we need to keep a close eye on at university and when students start working.”
Professor de Vries says that commitments to diversity and inclusion are becoming politicized and attacked in many European countries.
She said, “It is very important to make sure that academic and public debates are even more open and diverse.” This also means calling attention to when different points of view are being pushed aside.
“The EU public debate is better when different voices are heard and people’s basic rights are respected. Universities and their students and employees play a very important role in this.”