“Diversity is inviting people to the party, inclusion is asking them to dance”

Karen Gustafsson from the Unit of Teaching and Learning and Emma Hägg from International Relations office at KI participated in a staff week organised by University of Bonn to discuss the topic of Diversity.  The participants came from all over the globe, including The Netherlands, Israel,  Brazil, Denmark, Scotland, Tanzania and France and from various sectors within their universities, such Human Resources, International Relations office, Equal opportunities and others.  This mix of participants created a great platform for an interesting discussion on this topic with the different perspectives presented by each member of the group.  The sharing of ideas, initiatives, activities and plans, that are ongoing at the respective universities lead to the discussion about networking, and the possibilities of collaborations. It also re-affirmed the belief and understanding that the is a global challenge, that needs to be worked on and integrated into all the corners of our universities.

Varied programme

The programme organised by the University of Bonn was varied and interesting.  Starting from a poster session, followed by presentations introducing several projects at the University of Bonn. We also had the opportunity take part in culture awareness training session, and a world café discussing the different approaches to Diversity.  The University of Bonn also organised job shadowing for the different members of the staff exchange where we could meet up with our counterparts at the university, to discuss best practises and build strong collaborations.

During our job shadowing we got the chance to see and discuss first-hand how their Certificate for Cultural merits functions, the project challenges and successes, which will help us tremendously when working on the implementation of a similar concept at KI.  We also met up with staff working in the NeurotechEU-team in Bonn to discuss how we can work as partners within the alliance but also to see what other opportunities are available now that KI and the University of Bonn are partners.  We also discussed other subjects such as research excellence, communicating international visibility, strategic partnerships and more.  As always not enough time to discuss everything but the willingness of all involved created such positive energy, but also gave us time to experience a Bonn tradition. With little time to get from one meeting to the next our Bonn colleagues are quick to find solutions, and in true Bonn style a bicycle and a guide was presented to get us to the next meeting! #staffweekbonn

Take home messages

Great discussions, time and room for reflection plus of course the joy of finally leaving the Zoom-bubble and meeting up with colleagues from around the globe in person. 

However, we can definitely put down some concrete points that we take home with us. We have colleagues from around the globe we can rely on to collaborate or just to use as a ball plank and bounce ideas off to get that other perspective, which is so important when dealing with matters around the concept of Diversity.

  • The International certificate for merits and how it has been implemented in Bonn will be valuable practise to lean on in the coming KI-project…and maybe could this also be extended into a similar certificate for staff – an idea “snatched and grabbed” from the host.
  • NeurotechEU a European University Initiative and an alliance where we at this staff week were fortunate to meet colleague from two of the eight partners. Having been a project only online as it was initiated during the pandemic it is nice to finally meet counterparts’ eye to eye and this will be helpful in taking the project further.
  • A staff week like this certainly extends and builds your network which can also be extended to include your colleague back home bringing even more people together through valuable personal contacts – the ripple effect!
  • The relationships between internationalisation and diversity and inclusion needs further digging into and more synergies in the overlaps between these areas can be reached if we work together within the university building bridges between the silos of departments and units.

Nonetheless, we all agree that it all starts with people, and their efforts to want the change, to reach the same goal of an Inclusive university, to see the diversity around us and to embrace it, in other words “to ask someone to dance!”


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