Aug. 27, 2018

Intersections in Diversity program to launch this fall

8-week program promotes inclusivity, global and cross-cultural awareness
Theresa Kenney, University of Calgary alumna and PhD student at McMaster University, helped co-ordinate and develop the materials for the Intersections in Diversity program.
Theresa Kenney, University of Calgary alumna, helped co-ordinate Intersections in Diversity. Kailey Lewis, Student and Enrolment Services

Intercultural exchange and diversity are a reality both on and off campus, and many students desire the opportunity to increase their knowledge in this area.

This fall, the University of Calgary will launch a new co-curricular program called Intersections in Diversity. Students of this eight-workshop, non-credit program will acquire key concepts, resources and skills to equip them to engage meaningfully with others, identify inequity and get involved in making the UCalgary community a more inclusive space for all.

What is intersectionality?

The program is informed by social justice education and focuses on intersectional frameworks. Intersectionality provides students a framework to look at different facets of their identity, says Theresa Kenney. Kenney, a UCalgary alumna and PhD student at McMaster University, has brought expertise in intersectional discourses and practices to help co-ordinate and develop the materials for the program.

“Kimberlé Crenshaw, the originator of the theory, explains intersectionality as a prism that we can look through to identify the different ways that power impacts our everyday lives,” Kenney says. “The program takes the concept of intersectionality and how we live intersectional lives — to look at issues like race, gender and sexuality and start to understand how those intersect. We don’t live ‘single issue lives’ as Audre Lorde says.”

Building alliances

Kenney believes this new program will benefit UCalgary students. “Students in this program get to have an introspective experience,” she explains. “They can start recognizing how they identify in the world, and with that knowledge, they can begin the journey towards becoming allies. Will this program create allies? Not necessarily, but it will start the critical thinking work needed to develop allyship with marginalized communities.”

Intersections in Diversity aims to improve global and cross-cultural awareness within the campus community. Students participating the workshops will be immersed in the history and experiences of marginalized groups in Canada through engaging in meaningful dialogue, fostering empathy, and empowering students to make the community a more positive space.

Creating an inclusive campus culture

With the University of Calgary growing as a hub of innovation, it has more opportunities than ever to engage the communities it serves. Focusing on collaboration, enriching student experience and supporting the diversity of the campus community, multiple student services stakeholders collaborated on the Intersections in Diversity program. The program is funded in part by the Campus Mental Health Strategy.

“We’re excited to see the hard work of several years finally come to fruition. It has been one of the most intentional, well-thought-out, collaborative and challenging process many of us have been involved with,” says Adriana Tulissi, co-creator of Intersections in Diversity and manager of the Faith and Spirituality Centre. “We’re honoured to see the excitement and commitment from our Student and Enrolment Services team in making this program accessible to students.”

To learn more about this program or to refer students, email Elyse Brazel at or visit the web page.