Who We Are

About Us

The Institute was first launched in 2005 as the Institute for Critical Studies in Gender and Health at Simon Fraser University (SFU). At this time our overall goal was to integrate and support health and natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities research utilizing the paradigm of intersectionality to better understand how gender relates with other axis of discrimination and disadvantage in multiple contexts. Throughout the subsequent years of doing this work, there has developed an increased awareness of the role played by multiple relational factors when trying to understand and respond to the complexities of health inequities.

As we have grown, the Institute has moved to the forefront of intersectional scholarship in Canada, and is now able to provide opportunities to collaborate with other organizations, Centres, and Institutes at SFU and beyond who are developing intersectionality as a framework for research and policy. In January 2011 we changed our name to the Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy (IIRP). This change occurred in order to better reflect the current debates, methods, and perspectives related to this paradigm and to support emerging opportunities for collaboration across Canada and internationally.

Intersectionality is a research and policy paradigm that is increasingly applied to study and respond to the complexity of people's lives and experiences.  Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989, but its origins and practices have a long and rich history in black feminist writing, indigenous feminism, third world feminism, and queer and postcolonial theory. 

Intersectionality focuses its attention on a variety of multi-level intersecting social locations, forces, factors and power structures that shape and influence life.  Its potential has been demonstrated in diverse fields and disciplines including public policy, public health, feminist studies, indigenous studies, sexuality studies, law, psychology, critical race theory, and sociology.  IIRP is dedicated to engaging researchers, scholars, graduate students, activists and practitioners who are committed to the advancement of the theory and practice of intersectionality.


IRPP’s current activities include:

  • The development and strengthening of our international network of intersectionality scholars;
  • The creation of virtual research policy and practice clusters;
  • The development of primers on the applications of intersectionality to qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods research methodologies;
  • An international intersectionality conference to be hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia in the spring of 2014. 




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