Earlier this month, South Africa’s University of the Free State, Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands and UCLA held their fourth symposium on diversity and equity in higher education. The collaborating universities met in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to explore how scholars from various disciplines engage with diversity and difference — social realities that have a foundational impact on higher education.

Established in 2014, the tripartite collaboration conducts research on issues of equity and diversity in higher education. Since that time, the three partners have held several colloquia to study the diversification of university spaces and to explore innovative and productive practices that can contribute to a socially just higher education environment.

A delegation of UCLA leaders attended the conference, including Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement; Patricia Turner, senior dean and vice provost of undergraduate education; Charles Alexander, associate vice provost for student diversity and director of the Academic Advancement Program; and Abel Valenzuela, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and professor of Chicana and Chicano studies and urban planning.

Individual panels at the conference addressed issues of engagement, institutional politics, activism, diversity perspectives, global convergence, decolonization, gender, governance and positioning Africa in higher education.

Fan, who delivered a keynote address at the annual meeting, noted the importance of the collaboration, stating that the trio of universities “share a vision that research on and teaching about diversity and inclusion is key to policies and practices that effectively address social injustice and inequity.”