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 and a Sustainable Future; and A United Community. In turn, there are systemic initiatives designed to promote diversity and build the College’s capacity to make long-lasting and impactful change.
Almost 60 years ago, the UWC movement grew out of a desire to create future peace, an aspiration to bring culturally different people together to build the intercultural understanding necessary to avoid future conflicts. Our founder Kurt Hahn had witnessed conflict on a staggering and horrific scale in the destruction of World War 2. This vision has never been more relevant than now: the College has both an opportunity and responsibility to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion is uppermost in our thinking, planning and learning across all aspects of the College. We are committed to using our 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 is, and will continue to be, a collective effort across the College.
Implementing strands of our DEI strategy
Our more recent work under Action for Diversity has included 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, 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 DEI.
As a result of these actions, we were able to use the rich evidence gathered 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 active anti-racist deliberations and actions, which we have continued in the 2020/2021 school year. 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
While we are committed to transformational change within our work on diversity, equity and inclusion, this change is complex and requires a systemic approach. We are guided by our abiding commitment to cultivate a diverse, equitable and inclusive College environment where all are welcomed to be their authentic selves and to feel seen, valued, and heard. Given our commitment to systemic change, with targeted outcomes, our Action for Diversity work has necessarily evolved and adapted as we work to address important issues, and meet the needs of our community. Although this work has begun, we acknowledge that we have significant work still to do. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively within our community and to draw on the strength of our UWC network to embed inclusive policies, practices and behaviours in our work as an organisation.
Guided by our UWCSEA Strategy, our work within 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 cultural competence. It is with this in mind that we have taken our anti racism DEI work forward this year.
While our current focus is on anti-racism, 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)
Anti-racism at UWCSEA
UWCSEA unequivocally condemns all forms of racism, whether individual, structural, or systemic, and we acknowledge that even a mission-led organisation such as ours is not immune from racism. As we look towards the future, we are striving to be an anti-racist, equitable, and more inclusive organisation as we identify, challenge, and change the structures and behaviours that reinforce any form of systemic racism. Taking bold and deliberately anti-racist steps, we are critically examining our policies, processes, practices, and curricula through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. We are challenging racism in both subtle and overt forms, including understanding of unconscious bias and microaggressions and increasing cultural intelligence. We are engaging our whole community – students, staff, parents, alumni and other stakeholders – so we are all better equipped to recognise, take ownership of the role we may play, and address bias and instances of injustice.
We also understand racism sometimes reveals itself to our community through unintentional behaviour, routines and norms and it is our deliberate intention to review any such systemic problems. We pledge to implement strategies which address racism and oppressive behaviours where these may be experienced in any way in our College.
By listening carefully to our students, alumni, parents, staff and other stakeholders, we will continue this work, which will be an ongoing project at the College.
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, ARDEI Project Lead with any questions, observations, suggestions or feedback. We would be very happy to hear from you.