Between March and September 2016, the Diversity Commission studied diversity at the University of Amsterdam. Recognizing that the challenge to enhance social justice at the University requires active engagement with diversity, the Commission approached the topic along two lines: diversity of people and diversity in knowledge.

Diversity of people is concerned with the challenge of having a diverse academic environment, including people with different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, religions, (dis-)abilities, genders, skin colors, sexual preferences, ages, and other characteristics that shape their position in society. We envision a university that strives toward equal opportunities for all, where people are free from discrimination and feel that they belong. To assess this type of diversity, we asked questions such as: What are the gendered and ethnic characteristics of the people who occupy important positions at the University? Which power pyramids are structural, despite the variety in the archipelago of islands that make up the University?

Diversity in knowledge refers to the challenge to broaden academic traditions and mainstream canons which are solely centered on Europe and the US, by adopting other academic perspectives and approaches to teaching and learning. We envision a university community that is conscious of how academic knowledge is influenced by its historical conditions, and of its social and environmental impact. To assess this type of diversity, we asked questions such as: What epistemic frameworks are favored in a particular discipline? Who are the subjects that ‘know’ and are taken seriously; in other words: who gets to speak in relation to curricula, in the classroom, in textbooks, and on what grounds?

Diversity presents an opportunity to enrich the University community. Diverse and inclusive environments where a diversity of perspectives is valued breed academic excellence. The University will profit from diversity in ideas to advance scientific thinking and reflections on human cultures and material worlds.

The Commission used a variety of methods to study diversity, from the study of the relevant international, national and University-specific reports, to policy papers, studies and other data, as well as a survey, interviews, discussion circles and the taking and analyzing of photographs. Here we make various recommendations aimed to enhance social justice and diversity at the University, which we present under six main goals.
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Wekker, G., Slootman, M. W., Icaza Garza, R., Jansen, H., & Vázquez, R. (2016, January). Let's do Diversity : report of the University of Amsterdam Diversity Commission. Retrieved from