#IBelong in response to 2020 emergencies
In the wake of recent global challenges – both the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide antiracism protests – higher education institutions must provide safe spaces for open conversations about diversity, discrimination and equity.
Covid-19 has disproportionately affected black and other minorities, in general, and in higher education. The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to persistent inequity and discrimination in society. Higher Education Institutions’ response to these external drivers could reinforce and entrench disadvantage or provide an opportunity for change. #IBelong enables teachers and students to engage in meaningful conversation about diversity, inclusion and sense of belonging through innovative interventions and reflections on pedagogy, and the curriculum content.
We’ve designed our interventions with dialogue at the heart of them, to develop strong, inclusive and empowering learning communities. Amid current developments, our activities provide opportunity to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable”. The #IBelong colour-brave approach encourages participants to be explicit yet to feel safe while having discussions on race, equity, marginalization and student success.
#IBelong interventions can only operate when higher education providers show commitment and readiness to re-examine their equity and inclusion practices. Four partner universities that applied the #IBelong approach displayed willingness to listen to the voices of the students and engage in important conversations.
Whether you are a student, teacher, or a student-mentor, our resources and activities are structured around dialogue , aimed at fostering a sense of belonging in higher education learning environments.
More than 500 students already took part in our Dialogue Days – interactive activities that facilitate discussion between students and staff. Some 40 teachers participated in Team Teacher Reflections – guided immersive collaborative sessions designed for teachers of the same course programme aimed at making teaching more inclusive and supportive of a diverse student body. In addition, over 100 mentees and mentors built stronger peer ties, through a Community Mentoring Programme – a set of activities aimed at creating accessible and welcoming peer learning communities in higher education.