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"Toward an inclusive culture and pedagogy"

 

This project aims at bringing together IFCU members from different continents around the issue of inclusion in order to improve the conditions of disabled students within Catholic higher education institutions.

 

The project is grounded on the results of a worldwide study conducted by CRESGE-Catholic University of Lille, France, in collaboration with the Federation. The results of this preliminary study were published in issue n° 13 of the Journal of the Centre for Coordination of Research.

 

The main objectives of the project are:

 

  • Bring the inclusion of disabled students at the centre of Catholic university concerns;
  • Improve university practices by implementing training modules that make disabled students’ access and stay within the institutions easier;
  • Train trainers to an inclusive pedagogy based on previous expertise already available within Catholic higher education;
  • Build an international network to exchange on methods and practices in this field.

 

The main project activities consist of:

 

  • Raising awareness among the university community about the barriers still faced by disabled students;
  • Providing training sessions and tools aiming at making the access and stay of these students within Catholic universities easier and smoother;
  • Supporting participating universities in designing an institutional Plan of Inclusion;
  • Creating an international Observatory on Inclusion involving all Catholic universities interested in the issue.

 

The program, which benefits from the expertise of renowned scholars from the "Campus Capacitas" at Universidad Catolica de Valencia (Valence, Spain) and Universidade Catolica Portuguesa (Porto, Portugal) has just been implemented in Latin America and will be extended to other regions of the world, namely Europe, Africa and Asia. The European phase is about to start.

The main products of the project so far are:

 

1) Preparation of a Guide intended to provide orientations for universities to design their own Plan of Inclusion. The document is based on the expertise of Spanish and Portuguese experts and is being enriched by including the lessons learnt by the other institutions involved as well as their comments and contributions either during the face-to-face encounters or during the online sessions. The guide is divided into different parts, including a review of the main objectives of the program, a summary on the contents of the training sessions, alongside detailed orientations and practical tools towards the preparation of the Plan. It is conceived in such a way that any university team within the IFCU network (including those not reached out through the current program) will be able use it in the future to analyse their own situation and to come up with a Plan in an independent manner. The guide, which is now being written in Spanish, will be translated into English to make it accessible to a larger audience.

 

2) Creation of an International Observatory, which will be available soon on the website of the "Campus Capacitas" from the Catholic University of Valence, Spain. The observatory will bring together in the long run all the universities having participated in this program, as well as all other Catholic universities interested in this field. It will provide scientific, strategic, technical and academic support; it must contribute to disseminating information related to the disability within the university context; it also intended to encourage the development of inclusive policies and activities within the network members; it will be a platform of exchange and share of good practices and lessons learnt among Catholic universities; and, finally, it is meant to organise international encounters and joint research activities on disability and inclusion in the future.

 

Facts and Figures” till date:

 

  • 1 subcontinent fully involved;
  • 11 participating universities working towards improving access and conditions for disabled students within their premises and to act as drivers in their own country/region;
  • 30 trainers already trained and ready to become multipliers;
  • 250 university authorities, high-level personnel and students acting as spokesperson reached out by the program;
  • 11 institutional Plans of Inclusion in the making;
  • 1 national encounter being organised in collaboration with the country’s Bishops’ Conference;
  • 1 comprehensive Guide to design a Plan towards Disability and Inclusion-related Issues under preparation;
  • 1 International Observatory underway, backed up by the Catholic University of Valence.
  • 1 worldwide network in the making, growing every day as the program extends to more regions of the world.