CAGS Launches New Webinar Series

“The Good and the Bad of Black Grad”

Produced and Hosted by Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

CAGS is excited to announce a new webinar series being offered in 2021. The series is free of charge and registration is open to all deans, associate deans, faculty members, administrators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and others interested in higher education. The webinar will be presented in English, and French interpretation will be provided simultaneously through a third-party service. This event will be conducted using the Zoom video conference platform.

See below for further information about “The Good and the Bad of Black Grad” webinar series, and to register for the next episode.

About the Series

The many crises and disruptions that occurred in 2020 have exposed and highlighted systemic racism worldwide. Canadian universities were not exempt from this reckoning. While often claiming to prioritize diversity and inclusion on their campuses, the fact remains that relatively few Black people can be found at Canadian universities. Furthermore, the absence of race-based data has empowered the Canadian Academy to deny its own racism with little consequence, while simultaneously undermining any calls to action expressed by racialized people.

At this particular moment in time, however, many higher education institutions across Canada are poised to critically (re-)assess their anti-racism strategies. As the infrastructure for the collection of quantitative race-based data slowly but surely gains momentum, the perspectives of Black community members can offer invaluable first-hand qualitative information.

The aim of this five-part webinar series is to create a space for dialogue that encourages Black academics to share their stories and experiences. These webinars will provide a platform to amplify the multitude of Black voices that are scattered across the country, with the ultimate goal of creating a digital anthology of the experiences of Black students and post-docs in Canada today. It is our hope that these diverse stories will serve to make connections among Black scholars, to inform University administrators of the challenges experienced by Black students, and to inspire prospective students to pursue and eventually achieve their educational goals.

In the media spotlight

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D.

Producer and Host

Evelyn Asiedu, Ph.D. – Producer and Host

In July 2020 Evelyn Asiedu published an article in Maclean’s titled “Canadian universities must collect race-based data,” which spoke to her experience as a Black female graduate student. Having ignored the feelings of rejection and isolation for her entire academic career, this op-ed was the first time she openly described her solitary journey as a Black female scientist. Following its publication, she received several emails from others with similar experiences across Canada – including some from students who were struggling with racism and seeking advice. The piece had struck a nerve. Building on the current momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement, Evelyn was inspired to create “The Good and the Bad of Black Grad,” a webinar series designed with and for Black students.

Evelyn Asiedu is a native of Brampton, Ontario. She received her Honors B.Sc. in Chemistry from Western University in 2013, and later that year moved to Edmonton to commence a Ph.D. program at the University of Alberta. Her thesis work aimed to identify chemicals in oil sands wastewater and to understand how long those chemicals take to degrade. Her volunteer activities have centered around environmental sustainability, community-building, and the promotion of diversity in science. Her writing on the latter topic has been published in Medium and the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Episode 1: Being the Only One

25 March 2021

3:00-4:30 PM (EDT)

In the first episode of the series, three current and former graduate students will review the paths that led them to their research. We will discuss how they navigated various levels of their education as Black women and search for threads of commonality in their stories. Using some targeted questions as a point of departure, this webinar will feature an organic and free-flowing conversation about race and its impact on the panelists’ journeys. The dialogue will conclude with some observations and recommendations for improving the experience of Black students and scholars in Canada.

This live webinar and its recording will be preserved and shared with current students and scholars who may be searching for guidance, support, and community on this particular topic.

Episode 2 – Recruit, retain, and represent!

In this episode, we’ll ask our panelists who were the key figures who inspired them along their path. Through our discussion we will define characteristics of leaders in our communities and discuss the importance of diversity in positions of power. We will talk about the necessity of Black representation and how institutions begin to think about recruitment of talented Black scholars to Canadian campuses.

This live webinar and its recording will be preserved and shared with current students and scholars who may be searching for guidance, support, and community on this particular topic.

The Good and the Bad of Black Grad

Episode 2: Recruit, Retain, and Represent!

28 April 2021

12:00-1:30 PM (EDT)

Zoom

Speakers

Alexandra Davis, Postdoctoral Fellow, Western University, is a marine ecologist that uses quantitative and experimental approaches to directly contribute to the management of vulnerable marine ecosystems. My approach integrates behavioral, community, and spatial ecology, which I believe is essential for understanding how ecosystems work and ultimately for managing them. Examining systems from multiple perspectives is a key element behind many of the questions in my research.  Overall, my work has shown that the integration of traditional ecology, spatial-temporal analyses, and collaborative citizen-based science is fundamental for establishing conservation goals such designing marine protected areas, conserving native coral-reef and marine ecosystems, and targeted removal plans for invasive species. More personally, I am a multi-racial woman, and belong to multiple marginalized groups, especially within the field of conservation science. I am often the only black person in my department and at conferences I attend. Because of this I have made it a priority to seek out and create spaces for marginalized groups within my institutions. Another major goal of mine is to expand from my background in traditional ecological and conservation research and integrate research on equity, justice, and inclusion within conservation sciences. Explicitly, I am interested in who is receiving funds and conducting research and whether these demographics match with the communities most impacted by the conservation issue of interest.

Peter Soroye is a PhD Student in Biology working with Prof Jeremy Kerr at the University of Ottawa. Peter is a conservation biologist and ecologist studying the impacts of climate change and land use change on pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies, with the goal of informing conservation management and policy to find more effective ways of protecting species and reversing declines of biodiversity. Peter is a passionate science communicator, regularly volunteering with programs like Let’s Talk Science, Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants, and more. Throughout his graduate school, he has remained committed towards increasing equity, inclusion, and representation in science, from various leadership positions on university committees and student associations, national societies (most prominently the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution), and volunteer organizations. For more info on Peter, visit his website: www.petersoroye.com.

Olivia Ghosh-Swaby, originally from Mississauga ON, is currently completing her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry (SSMD), Western University. Her research interests include the impact of diet and metabolism on memory in obesity and whether exercise and anti-diabetic drugs can boost neural stem cell growth. She is an advocate and public speaker for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in STEM and university athletics, speaking on the topic in over 15 news articles and 10 major speaking events. She is an executive member of the BrainsCAN and Schulich EDI Committees and is a graduate representative for the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Robarts Association of Trainees. Outside of academia, she manages and operates the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association and sits on Football Canada’s Diversity Task Force for women and BIPOC athletes. She has a unique student-athlete perspective that has allowed her to champion various initiatives on the student and athlete life for underrepresented groups.