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2021 Faculty of Education Summer Institute explores how social hierarchies are reproduced within educational structures

2021 Faculty of Education Summer Institute explores how social hierarchies are reproduced within educational structures

A long-running annual conference that brings together stakeholders in education to evaluate educational beliefs, policies and practices will continue this year in a virtual format.

From Aug. 23 to 25, the Faculty of Education Summer Institute, FESI 2021 – Reimagining and Restructuring Educational Pipelines, will explore the many ways that social hierarchies are reproduced within educational structures. Participants will reflect on all the different ways that students are sorted and stratified based on perceptions of their social identities. This year’s institute will not only raise questions of pervasive systems that serve to push students out of schools and limit possibilities, but also take a close look at schooling and education in the context of inequities exacerbated by COVID-19.

"While the Ontario government is making moves to de-stream select courses in the forthcoming school year, many students, parents and educators know there are a multitude of other ways our school system 'streams' students," said Sultan Rana, co-chair and organizer of FESI and course director in the Faculty of Education. "Furthermore, many of us have always known it has been predicated on the social identities these students hold. Be it special education, French immersion, gifted programs, parent councils or guidance counsellors, all are being discussed at this year's conference."

FESI 2021 banner

The FESI 2021 planning committee has envisioned a conference with a variety of entry points to meet the needs of the pandemic realities. This year’s conference will have the following format:

Day 1

The first day will focus on problematizing practices. Two pre-recorded keynotes/panels will address some of the large barriers we are faced with in allowing students to receive and experience liberatory education. Conference guests will be able to access these recordings on their own time throughout the day.

Day 2

On the second day, participants will engage in small workshop sessions to either explore the themes on a deeper level by revisioning practices, or to join others with similar job responsibilities to speak about tensions and solutions to challenges that pertain directly to their work. These sessions will run synchronously and will require pre-registration due to space limitations.

Day 3

The third day will involve a community viewing of Pushout – The Criminalization Of Black Girls In Schools, a feature-length documentary that takes a close look at the educational, judicial and societal disparities facing Black girls. The documentary confronts the ways in which the misunderstanding of Black girlhood has led to excessive punitive discipline, which in turn disrupts one of the most important factors in their lives: their education.

"We are excited for the ambitious digital field we are playing in this year," said Rana, "which will be a mix of Zoom and a new social utility tool called Bramble that will emulate a conference hall, allowing attendees, represented by a tiny avatar, to digitally walk around a virtual conference hall and walk up and speak to actual attendees in real time."

To register for FESI 2021, visit

To learn more about Research & Innovation at York: follow us at @YUResearch; watch the animated video which profiles current research strengths and areas of opportunity, such as artificial intelligence and Indigenous futurities; and see the snapshot infographic, a glimpse of the year’s successes.