In an age where conversations around consent and gender and sex equality are more prominent than ever, the implementation of Sexual Violence Awareness Training in universities has become not just relevant but necessary. In Canada, the approach to mandating sexual violence awareness training and implementing policies in universities varies by province, reflecting diverse legal frameworks and institutional responses. However, these programs are pivotal in promoting a safe, supportive, and inclusive campus environment for all students and staff. In this context, our work with Concordia University in creating a mandatory online training for students and faculty has resonated with different other institutions, and, as such, it’s now a program implemented in other universities in Canada and Europe*. Here’s how we approached the work on this project.


Concordia University has been at the forefront of establishing a secure environment on campus. It was the first university in Canada to create the position of sexual harassment advisor in 1987 and was among the initial universities to implement a sexual harassment policy in the early 1990s. Additionally, it was one of the first in the country to establish an Ombuds Office in the 1970s. In 2013, the university created the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC). In addition to urgent assistance and counselling services, the Centre is committed to preventing sexual violence on campus and beyond through education and raising awareness.

In this context, we collaborated closely with SARC to create an online course based on resources already provided in person, a course that became mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff.


Awareness and Education

At the core of Sexual Violence Awareness Training is the dissemination of crucial information. Many students arrive at university from diverse backgrounds and may not have had comprehensive education on issues of consent, sexual violence, harassment, or bystander intervention. Our program had to fill critical knowledge gaps and dismantle harmful myths surrounding sexual violence, offering clear definitions and scenarios that will help students understand the breadth and nuances of the issue.

Support for Survivors

A significant aspect of this training is the emphasis on support for survivors. We approach the work knowing that certain content might be challenging to go through, especially for people who have experienced sexual violence. The training needed to help destigmatize seeking help and to encourage a supportive dialogue around these difficult experiences, fostering a community where survivors feel seen, heard, and believed.

Short Video vs. Extensive Training

Another challenge was linked to the overall length of the program. While short videos have their place in raising awareness, the complexity and sensitivity of the subject matter require more comprehensive coverage. A longer program allows for a deeper exploration of important topics, ensuring participants not only understand the definitions but also the nuances and their real-world applications. It also enables the inclusion of interactive elements, such as quizzes, scenarios, and reflective exercises, which can significantly enhance learning and retention. A short video might raise awareness at a surface level but is unlikely to affect meaningful behaviour change or equip participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute to a safer community.


Various teaching strategies have been adopted to address the challenges encountered during the training program’s shift to online learning.

The focus of the educational approaches revolved around:

  • Narrative-based scenarios to immerse learners in realistic situations related to the course content.
  • Direct instructions enhanced with multimedia elements such as images, animations, and interactive quizzes to maintain engagement and reinforce learning.
  • Problem-based learning through analyzing statistics and material to distinguish between factual information and misconceptions.

Diversity of audiences

To tackle the issue of our audience’s varied backgrounds, the following steps have been implemented:

  • Separate pathways have been established for students and faculty/staff to account for the varying power dynamics among these groups.
  • We have developed gender-neutral scenarios, ensuring also that the characters represent a wide range of body types, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.
  • The program is accessible in both English and French, catering to linguistic diversity.

Support for Survivors

Recognizing that the material may be challenging for individuals who have encountered sexual violence, we provide participants with the flexibility to bypass specific content, pause and return to the program later, or entirely withdraw from the online training. Additionally, there is an opportunity to undertake the training in person, guided by skilled professionals from the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC).

Please check the demo below to get a better understanding of the way we developed this training program:

Since the launch of this training program, we added two more modules:

Recognizing Attitudes, Changing Behaviours

In this module, we continue to identify the root causes of sexual violence by examining certain cultural attitudes and behaviours that contribute to the normalization of sexual violence.

Systems of Oppression and Intersectionality

This module explores various power dynamics at the root of sexual violence. Exploring power dynamics can bring attention to the different ways that sexual violence is experienced and the barriers to reporting and support services faced by survivors.


Sexual violence is more prevalent than many may realize and can take many shapes and touch individuals and communities in different ways. Perhaps the most profound impact of Sexual Violence Awareness Training is the potential for cultural change. By challenging and changing the attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate sexual violence, universities can cultivate an environment of respect and equality. Training sessions are opportunities for students and staff to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours and to commit to creating a safer campus culture.

*List of universities that have incorporated our Sexual Violence Awareness training in their curriculum (at the publishing date of this article):

  • Anger University
  • Bishop University
  • CCAA
  • Collège Algonquin
  • Collège Bart
  • Collège Merici
  • Dawson College
  • Fédération des CEGEP du Québec
  • HEC Montréal
  • Holland College
  • Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
  • Loyalist College
  • Marianopolis College
  • MacEwan University
  • McGill University
  • McMaster University
  • Mount-Royal University
  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
  • NOSM University
  • Polytechnique Montréal
  • Queen’s University
  • Reseau Université du Québec
  • Sheridan College
  • Lawrence College
  • Stanstead College
  • The Sir Sandford Fleming College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Université de Louvain
  • Université de Moncton
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université de Saskatchewan
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Windsor
  • Vancouver Island University
  • Vanier College

Doru Lupeanu

Marketing Director @KnowledgeOne. Strategist. Movie scriptwriter. Transylvanian. Fanatic anime consumer.