Education - Law & Policy

This project examines sexual violence in universities through several lenses - legal, administrative and educational – so that institutions are equipped with an improved understanding of their legal obligations, roles and responsibilities. Our objective is to reclaim the role of universities in educating their own communities and more importantly, greater society on the value of sustainable models to prevent and reduce sexual violence.

The Internet and social media have expanded university contexts substantially.  This context is no longer limited to campus walls or boundaries. In this project, we examine the law and the relationships to what takes place off-campus and on-line when there is a “nexus” or connection between perpetrators of sexual violence and those targeted, including students, faculty or staff. Our analysis draws from policies and practices within universities, emerging and established case law, statutes and task force reports.

We are conscious not to develop a bureaucratic approach. Rather, we bring students and multi-sector partners together to initiate evidence-based and creative ways of informing administrative and curriculum policies on sexual violence. This webpage outlines some initiatives included in our project that inform our work and advance strategies to reducing sexual violence at universities. 


Survey to Address Sexual Violence on Campus Universities

The mandate of this project, Education - Law & Policy, is to develop and distribute two qualitative surveys that gauge student, faculty and staff experiences with sexual violence within university communities. The surveys also gather information about university policies, communication strategies, institutional supports, due process (for both survivors and perpetrators), and barriers to reporting. The surveys ask participants about personal experiences with sexual violence on campus, including incidents that they may have witnessed and disclosures received from survivors of sexual violence. In addition, the surveys inquire about respondents’ knowledge of sexual violence support and policies at their respective universities. Finally, the surveys aim to gather respondents’ perceptions of their university’s ability to balance free expression, privacy, safety, protection, due process, and sustainable supports for sexual violence survivors.

The data gathered from these surveys will contribute to development of future university policies. Our data will further inform innovative, student-relevant curricula to address sexual violence and consent undertaken by the two other IMPACTS Projects: Activism in Arts, and Popular Culture and News & Social Media. Findings will also be applied to other projects that our partnership will undertake, which will include scholarly research, university- and community-based programming, and artistic and journalistic projects addressing sexual violence. 

To learn more about the survey for Climate Survey on Campus Sexual Assault (students), click here.


Curriculum Development

Based on the scholarly literature, case law and qualitative research, the project will contribute evidence-based knowledge to inform curriculum development. The curriculum development emphasizes student-centered partnerships with community sectors that will provide creative spaces for dialogues, critical analysis, conferences and publications. Our objective is to incorporate these innovations throughout university curricula. With this curriculum development, we aim to push towards sustainable, long-term models that will establish Canada as a leader in strategic, evidence-based responses to sexual violence.

Our approach is pragmatic, practical, evidence-based and feasible because we bring in the partner expertise to work closely with our students. Our students will be front and center in informing policy and curriculum resources and practices, as set out on the pages explained the other IMPACTS Projects: Activism in Arts, and Popular Culture and News & Social Media.

Dentistry Pilot Course

One of our current programs is the Dentistry Pilot Course (DENT 206: Dentistry Social Justice Seminar). In close collaboration between our research team, members of the Faculty of Dentistry, and McGill's Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE), Research Assistant Emil Briones has been developing and co-facilitating the delivery of a series of workshops under a mandatory course for Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) students. This workshop suite is titled “DENT 206: Dentistry Social Justice Seminar”. Within this course, key concepts of anti-oppression, social justice, and transformative action are explored in the context of students' future roles as oral healthcare providers.

DENT 206 aims to provide students with a baseline understanding of why social justice and anti-oppression matter in the health care profession, as well as tools to engage in critical thinking and self-reflexivity. We are also conducting a study on the pilot version of DENT 206, which ran in the 2016-2017 academic year. The data and analysis generated by the study will be used to better understand student engagement in learning for social change and the effectiveness of the pilot course's content and format. We hope to use the knowledge produced by the DENT 206 pilot study to help other health professional training programs in their efforts to educate social justice-oriented care providers.


Rape Beliefs and Adolescents: A study of CEGEP students

This research aims to examine adolescents and young adults’ perceptions of rape culture and sexual violence in terms of their personal experience, within the social norms of their youth culture and their view of their moral and ethical responsibility. This perspective is valuable to inform the attitudes and experiences that CEGEP generations bring to the university when they begin their studies.