In May 2023, six members of the Luddy Indianapolis DEI Working Group—faculty and students—traveled to Helsinki, Finland. Library and Information Science lecturer William Helling received a grant of $15,000 from the U.S. Embassy in Finland through the Small Grants Program to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts of IUPUI and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. This international collaboration between IUPUI and Haaga-Helia is the start of a longer-term engagement in DEI activities. The connections made during this collaborative process will form the basis of a sustainable partnership that can include other institutions of higher learning in Finland. This experience will help others interested in establishing DEI working groups or simply collaborating on DEI topics and activities.
Helling said, “I saw a need, I had the connections, and I recognized an opportunity. The IUPUI Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is an innovator in its fields of interest. The Department of Library and Information Science has already been collaborating with Haaga-Helia for several years and more recently has launched the university’s first study-abroad program in Finland, taking place in spring 2022. I have been a Fulbright Scholar at Haaga-Helia in 2013 (Aug-Dec), 2020 (Jan-Mar), and 2022 (Jan-Jun). I have been including, on my own initiative, students from both universities in common courses since 2013; in 2021 I was awarded a Global Classroom Fellowship from Indiana University to formalize the relationship. This interaction aided my successful proposal to establish a study-abroad program to bring IUPUI students to Helsinki each May to complete a spring collaborative course with their Haaga-Helia counterparts. These study-abroad students come from all Luddy programs, not just Library and Information Science. Because of my long-term relationship with Haaga-Helia and the successful networking we had already accomplished, I knew I could take advantage of this situation where we could collaborate even further on a topic of common interest.”
The group co-conducted a two-day workshop on different DEI topics, including building community in online education, designing the safer place culture, DEI in language usage, involving students in designing a gender equity plan, and so on. This workshop involves students, staff, and instructors from the two partner universities as well as other institutions of higher education in Finland. The workshop featured presentations in different formats and allowed much time for attendee participation in discussions. Committee members in attendance were faculty Andrea Copeland, Charles Sutton, and Zeb Wood, and students Amira Malcom, Cordel Blair, and Margaret Breidenbaugh. In addition, the seminar was also a part of IUPUI’s Finland Study Abroad 2023 program, and seven of its students were able to participate.
Helling said IUPUI and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences share many of the same difficulties. “In particular we are both aware of our desire to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students. The need for such initiatives is felt on the international level. Improving DEI has become the linchpin for recruiting, developing, and retaining faculty and staff,” he said. On the student level, progress in DEI is considered critical for improving student academic success and retention. The collaboration between Luddy and Haaga-Helia focuses on their mutual need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in several areas. The DEI Working Group of IUPUI’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering recognizes its need to identify situations where diversity, equity, and inclusion are not being met in order to create a more inclusive and accepting school. Haaga-Helia’s Equity Plan is designed to safeguard the diversity, equality, equity, and non-discrimination of its educational institution as well as to ensure and support the effectiveness of its initiatives for students and staff.
What was accomplished during this trip?
The morning of May 16, the IUPUI and Haaga-Helia DEI committee members visited the US Embassy in Helsinki to have a round-table discussion with the embassy’s DEIA advisory board (pictured above). The embassy staff members were curious about their activities and plans and were very supportive and interested in their work. In the afternoon, a series of small presentations was held on the Haaga-Helia campus where both IUPUI and Haaga-Helia faculty and students introduced topics and engaged attendees in discussions. They continued with presentations and discussions on May 17, culminating in breakout groups for both faculty and students to study the most immediate DEI issues for them along with possible actions to take. Members from both IUPUI and Haaga-Helia were able to identify common areas of concern as well as their methods of addressing these issues. They also recognized some of the unique challenges that the two campuses face. Helling said the networking possibilities were beneficial for both sides.
The archive of the seminar is on the website of the DEI Working Group of the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at IUPUI.
What are the next steps?
Luddy DEI members will meet again (virtually) with their Haaga-Helia counterparts after the summer break in order to discuss the important questions as well as conclusions reached in the seminar. IUPUI and Haaga-Helia working group members will evaluate the seminar activity and create additional action plans for their campuses based on the activity. The working group members will also plan on how to sustain their common efforts: they want to share ideas for making progress in DEI. More important, however, is the effort to develop methods for assessing results of DEI activities and collecting evidence of its impact. Finally, they would like to discuss plans for a possible future seminar with Haaga-Helia as a partner, perhaps on the IUPUI campus.
This collaboration is important to the two entities because Luddy’s DEI concerns and goals are shared with Haaga-Helia, and they can mutually benefit by collaboration. “We can learn about the success or missteps of our collaborating partner. Shared strategies will encourage stakeholder institutions and infuse new ideas into the discussion. Students, faculty, and staff from both IUPUI and Haaga-Helia will be the recipients of any advances made in diversity, equity, and inclusion. In brief, this proposed international collaboration between IUPUI and Haaga-Helia is to be considered the start of a longer-term engagement on DEI activities. This experience will help others interested in establishing DEI working groups or simply collaborating on DEI topics and activities,” Helling said.