Aligning our mission and strategy
The UWC mission is to use education as a force to secure a peaceful and sustainable future for all. Valuing diversity, building trust and understanding are core to our bold vision for education and require commitment from our entire community as we continually strive for positive and just action.
The UWCSEA Strategy 2018-2023 renewed our commitment to building a community which is intentionally inclusive and equitable, and makes clear the College’s priority of intercultural understanding and inclusion through our Areas of Focus - Education as a Force; Peace; A Sustainable Future; and A United Community. In turn, the strategy includes systemic initiatives designed to promote diversity and build the College’s capacity to make long-lasting and impactful change through meaningful action for diversity.
Almost 60 years ago, the UWC movement grew out of a desire to create future peace, an aspiration to bring those from different cultures together to build the intercultural understanding necessary to avoid future conflicts. The founder of UWC, Kurt Hahn, had witnessed the rise of Hitler and Nazism, and the subsequent conflict and mass destruction of World War 2.
His vision, for a more peaceful future, has never been more relevant than now: UWCSEA has both an opportunity and responsibility to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is uppermost in our thinking, planning and learning across all aspects of the College. We are committed to using education as a force to help create greater social justice and to uphold basic rights within and beyond our community as a means to realise peace.
We recognise that as a College, we too, have an imperfect history and are on a journey to meet the aspirations captured in our founding mission. This continues to be a collective effort across the College.
Action for Diversity: implementing strands of our DEI strategy
Our work under Action for Diversity has included the promotion of gender equity, support of our LGBTQ+ community, creating greater access for learners who speak a language other than English as a home language, awareness of race and deepening our organisational learning around systems of injustice.
In the 2018/2019 school year, we spent time listening to our community through Action for Diversity World Café events that brought day and boarding students, parents, teachers, administrative staff, leaders and Board members together to unpack what diversity means for our community. This was followed by a climate survey that invited students in Grades 6-12, parents, staff and alumni to share their thinking and priorities around possible DEI activity.
As a result of these actions, we were able to develop a strategic action plan during the 2019/2020 school year. In that same year, the College also:
- underwent a review of our values within the Values in Action project
- began developing guiding statements around inclusion
- developed internal capacity to lead unconscious bias training
- began to understand the contribution that increased linguistic diversity would make to our community and examine ways in which we could become more inclusive for speakers of languages other than English
In the third term of the 2019/2020 school year, our focus turned to a commitment to systemic change with active anti-racist deliberations and actions, which continued in the 2020/2021 school year and will extend into 2021/2022. This work involves all our stakeholders – staff, students, parents, leaders and alumni – to ensure we are inclusive in our behaviours, our practices, our policies and, in line with our mission, our education.
Committing to systemic change and defining our position
While we are committed to transformational change on diversity, equity and inclusion, this change is complex and requires a systemic approach. As we continue to explore and understand the deeply interwoven nature of each of the elements that require change in our systems, we acknowledge that in order to be successful, this change will also take time. In this work, we continue to be guided by our abiding commitment to cultivate a diverse, equitable and inclusive College where all are welcomed to be their authentic selves; to feel seen, valued, and heard; and to feel a sense of belonging.
Given our commitment to systemic change, with targeted outcomes, our Action for Diversity work has necessarily evolved and adapted as we work to address these important issues, and meet the needs of our community. Notwithstanding the significant work underway, we acknowledge that we have much still to do. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively within our community and to draw on the strength of our UWC global network to embed inclusive policies, practices and behaviours in our work as an organisation.
Guided by our UWCSEA Strategy, our work on DEI has unfolded over the last three years, and most recently has been catalysed by the imperative of addressing the search for social justice. Over this period, we have instigated a number of initiatives - such as the World Cafés and the Values in Action consultation - which have served to highlight the need to focus on a shared approach to understanding and addressing unconscious bias and intercultural competence.
Our commitment is to create a more inclusive College where all belong. We have approached our work by gathering data and seeking to understand better the diversity in our community, including but not limited to, data on:
- Language and Linguistic Diversity
- Race and Ethnicity
- Differing abilities (neuro-diversity and physical ability)
After engaging in this work for over a year, listening to the different opinions which emerged, we have identified that we need to define our position more clearly on how we wish to engage with this important topic. This resulted in the drafting of a position paper, which we hope to make available here by the end of August 2021.
At the end of the 2021/2022 school year we will evaluate this position and refine and redesign where necessary, as we acknowledge we continue on a learning journey, together.
Resources to educate ourselves and others
Please explore the tabs below to discover some resources which we have found helpful in guiding our discovery and thinking as we reflect and shape our response.
A 'start here' list is then linked to a comprehensive list, where we have an extensive archive of resources to educate ourselves as individuals, and for educators to use to inform their practice as well as in their classroom.
The resources shared here are for our continued learning, and for yours to go as broad, and as deep, as you wish. We encourage you to engage critically with the materials and hope that this resource stimulates thinking, encourages questions, and allows all of us to engage in discussion with curiosity. We believe that there is value in self reflection through understanding multiple perspectives and will continually update these resources, including specifically adding resources which provide alternative perspectives which challenge the position we have taken as a College, or which we may hold as individuals.
If you have additional recommendations, or other feedback, please email us with your suggestions.
Our long list – additional resources
We have an extensive list of resources to continue to educate ourselves as individuals, and for educators to use to inform their practice, as well as to consider using in their classrooms. The resources shared here are for our continued learning and for yours. We encourage you to engage critically with the materials and hope that it stimulates thinking, encourages you to ask questions, and to engage in discussion with curiousity.
We believe that there is value in self reflection through understanding multiple perspectives and will continually update these resources. If you have additional recommendations, or other feedback, please email us with your suggestions.
Please contact Roosmarijn Emmering, College DEI Lead with any questions, observations, suggestions or feedback. We would be very happy to hear from you.