From 2020-2023, UBC participated in a pilot project of the federal Dimensions program, which seeks to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector across all disciplines, through greater equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
As part of the federal Dimensions pilot, the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation and the Equity and Inclusion Office coordinated a diverse, cross-campus team that led an assessment to identify systemic barriers and inequities experienced by historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized people in the research community at UBC.
The assessment sought to leverage lessons from UBC’s existing action plans and initiatives relating to EDI in the research ecosystem, including feedback, testimonials, and lived experiences shared by members of historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized groups. It then examined UBC’s policies, programs, practices, and initiatives related to EDI in the research ecosystem, and invited members of the research community to engage with the assessment’s findings and share their feedback to further inform the assessment of EDI in UBC’s research ecosystem. An action plan was then developed to address institutional barriers and inequities in UBC’s research ecosystem that were identified through the assessment.
In October 2022, UBC submitted its assessment of EDI in the university’s research ecosystem and the action plan for peer review, and to be evaluated for recognition by the federal Dimensions program. The peer review panel awarded UBC a "Construction" designation, the second of four levels in the federal program’s cycles of transformational change, acknowledging that the university’s efforts to enhance EDI are strategic, coordinated, and ongoing.
The implementation and monitoring of the Dimensions Action Plan will be coordinated by the Equity and Inclusion Office under the Strategic Equity and Anti-Racism (StEAR) Framework.
UBC endorses the Dimensions Charter, which outlines the principles that institutions commit to, to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity through greater equity, diversity and inclusion.
UBC's Dimensions pilot project sought to leverage existing UBC strategies and action plans in the area of EDI, and focus on the following objectives in service of the federal program goals:
1. Convene A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE SELF-ASSESSMENT TEAM (SAT)
The SAT was responsible for conducting the Dimensions pilot project and was strategically assembled to capture relevant experiences and institutional roles to ensure sufficient resourcing and strategic direction to complete the project. The SAT included institutional champions for EDI efforts, and/or those who possess lived experience as a representative of a historically underrepresented or disadvantaged group(s). In addition, to represent the diversity of the university community, the SAT included students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, staff and institutional leadership.
2. CONDUCT AN INSTITUTIONAL SELF-ASSESSMENT
With the goal of identifying systemic barriers and inequities within the UBC research ecosystem, the SAT conducted a scan of available EDI-related data in collaboration with numerous university offices. The SAT leveraged data sources and analyzed EDI-related policies, reports, initiatives and services currently available on both UBC campuses. The team also collected first-hand accounts from key informants with lived experiences related to EDI.
3. CREATe AN ACTION PLAN TO IMPROVE EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN UBC'S RESEARCH ECOSYSTEM
Drawing on the information revealed by the self-assessment, the SAT proposed an action plan to address identified barriers and inequities within UBC’s research ecosystem. The action plan seeks to complement and build upon existing UBC strategies, such as the Inclusion Action Plan and Indigenous Strategic Plan.
SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR DIMENSIONS RECOGNITION
The Dimensions action plan, as well as the completed self-assessment, form the basis of an application for recognition from the federal Dimensions program, which was submitted in October 2022. UBC’s application acknowledges the significant work that has already been undertaken at the institution as well as the significant work remaining to transform research culture to become more equitable, inclusive and diverse.
The federal Dimensions recognition program has four stages intended to reflect the journey of carrying out EDI work:
- Stage 1 — Foundation
- Stage 2 — Construction
- Stage 3 — Consolidation
- Stage 4 — Transformation
Recognition by the federal Dimensions program acknowledges that an institution’s action plan and efforts to address equity, diversity and inclusion in the research ecosystem are aligned with the federal program’s goals.
UBC was recognized with a "construction" designation, acknowledging the strategic, coordinated and ongoing nature of UBC's commitment and efforts to enhance EDI at the institution and in research.
4. SUPPORT A MORE DIVERSE, INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE RESEARCH ECOSYSTEM AT UBC
Informed by, and stemming from, UBC’s Dimensions Action Plan, the Inclusion Action Plan and the Indigenous Strategic Plan, and other key institutional initiatives, the university will build upon these existing efforts and/or enact new initiatives to address systemic barriers and inequities identified in the pilot that are experienced by members of underserved, marginalized or excluded groups within UBC’s research ecosystem.
The plans above set the foundation for long-term, continued efforts across the university’s departments, faculties, institutes and research support units. Furthermore, UBC’s Dimensions action plan will be evaluated regularly to gauge its effectiveness and impact on UBC’s research community. These efforts underscore the university’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to funding opportunities, increasing equitable and inclusive participation in research and embedding EDI-related considerations in research design and practices.