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Creating inclusive learning spaces through online engagement

Learning in Colour is a digital platform dedicated to creating safe and inclusive classroom spaces informed by the perspectives and experiences of Black, Indigenous and racialized students. Article by Meghan Johnston Originally Published on Daily News

Nov 01, 2021

Learning in Colour, a digital platform that is the outcome of a research project dedicated to creating safe and inclusive classroom spaces informed by the perspectives and experiences of Black, Indigenous and racialized students, has been officially launched by PhD student researchers Renata Hall and Madison Brockbank.

“The focus of Learning in Colour is to help support and empower students of colour with the tools needed to work through and navigate racial trauma,” says Hall.

“It also consolidates information, recommendations and resources for all community members to promote, uphold and facilitate safe spaces.”

Learning in Colour is curated for different audiences and perspectives. There is a section dedicated to racialized students with links to wellness and mental health support, resources about what racialized trauma means, and access to creative outlets like journaling and art therapy.

There are also sections dedicated to non-racialized peers and allies, instructors and TAs and the academic institution. Each section provides resource links, videos, conversation guides and ways to take action, including how to enhance classroom literature and course outlines.

Hall and Brockbank say the project is grounded in the work that came before them.

They point to the Race Report led and authored by School of Social Work graduate Roché Keane, as well as the anonymous suggestion box — conceptualized by School of Social Work graduate Glenda Vanderleeuw. The latter encouraged racialized students to submit pedagogical suggestions and feedback that could then be shared with appropriate administrators and groups.

The initial research project emerged from an ongoing partnership with the McMaster School of Social Work student of colour caucus, United in Colour. They also held focus groups with racialized students across the university to hear stories and learn about their experiences.

Both Hall and Brockbank agree that the hope is for communities across campus to use the resources provided to critically reflect and learn about racialized trauma, and for racialized people to have access to tools that can support them.

“As a social worker, we talk about race, power and privilege early on in our degrees,” says Brockbank.
“Our hope is that Learning in Colour provides an opportunity to foster these conversations in a safe way across other departments and faculties and provide tangible tools to enhance safety in the classroom. This level of change requires a continued commitment and accountability from everyone.”

Learn more about the Learning in Colour project here.