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Racially Responsive Leadership


White banner with black writing that reads: Black lives matter. Banner is hanging outside between two trees.What is racially responsive leadership?

From the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion: "Based on several studies and research, scholar Dr. Shaun Harper (2017) argues that higher education leaders fail to adequately address racial inequities, as most leaders do not comprehend the severity and harmful impact of racism, resulting in a lack of empathy or will to tackle systemic racism. Harper indicates that most leaders in higher education tend to focus their attention on issues based on the belief that it will be of benefit to them, selecting priorities that could bolster global rankings, garner interest from high-profile donors, or boost relationships with valuable industry leaders.

In line with Harper’s findings, the majority of senior leaders in higher educational institutions do not believe addressing race matters provide these kinds of profitable gains. Canadian critical race scholars have also demonstrated a large majority of higher education leaders lack the racial literacy, confidence, capacity, and to a degree, the will to authentically address systemic racial inequities embedded within leadership structures (DasGupta et al., 2020; Dua, 2009; Eisenkraft, 2010; Fuji Johnson & Enomoto, 2007; Green at al., 2018; Henry et al., 2017; Henry & Tator, 2009).  Outlined on the following page are Harper’s principles of RRL that will serve as the foundational elements of the RRL Summit. Each principle will allow RRL Summit participants to develop new organizational outcomes for their respective institutions. The principles of RRL are comprehensive and provide a basis for the higher educational leaders to introduce anti-racist leadership behaviors, practices, and sustainable accountability mechanisms across distinct divisions."

Canada's First Racially Responsive Leadership Summit

In October 2021, Centennial College, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Scarborough, welcomed higher education leaders from across Canada to Canada’s first Racially Responsive Leadership (RRL) Summit to build capacity to courageously confront and correct systemic racism within their institutions. Inspired by the work of Dr. Shaun Harper, this virtual event engaged leaders in Canadian higher education on how to develop a Racially Responsive Leadership Framework complete with actionable recommendations for their own respective institutions.

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