Teacher Louise Autar wins Diversity & Inclusion Award

Screenshot of Louise Autar when she was annouced as the winner of the Diversity & Inclusion Award 2021.

The winner of this year's Diversity & Inclusion Award, worth 2,500 euros, was announced on Wednesday to close Utrecht University's Diversity Month. Established by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion programme, the prize aims to celebrate and support initiatives to increase diversity at the university.

The winner, Louise Autar, was unveiled by UU's Diversity Dean, Janneke Plantenga. Autar was chosen due to her multiple initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion. For example, she developed a platform for students of colour and a think tank looking to make graduate schools more diverse. According to the jury, Autar's projects contribute to attract a more diverse set of students to UU and make sure that they feel at home once they start studying here.

Currently, Autar is working on a project to decolonise education within the Humanities. Back when she was a Master's student in Gender Studies, she already conducted research on diversity: namely, on how welcome first-year students feel at the university. In 2017, she published the article Decolonising the Classroom: credibility-based strategies for inclusive classrooms. As a student assistant, Autar also researched how diverse the Master's programmes are. Last but not least, she shared her views on the subject on DUB, stating that racism is a structural problem at UU.

This is the first time an individual is awarded this prize. In 2020, networking groups Young Women in Geoscience and Women in Information and Computing Science shared the award, while in 2019 the prize went to platform Onbeperkt Studeren (Unlimited study). 

This year, the other two nominees were Programma Opmaat (link in Dutch), which helps first-generation students to get acquainted with the academic world, and Educational Consultancy & Professional Development, which helps elementary and high school students with a migration background to get rid of their language deficiencies and step up their skills in the Dutch language.