What does it mean to be committed to "ethical, critical, aspirationally de-colonial community-based learning and research?"

Following significant discernment and eight years of accomplishments, The Globalsl Network settled on an updated mission statement, "to advance ethical, critical, and aspirationally decolonial community-based learning and research for more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities." How does that become tractable?  In the months since Globalsl Network members gathered at Clemson University for the 6th GSL Summit, steering committee members have developed a commitment statement for institutions and organizations (re-)committing to globalsl membership. Review the commitment statement below and linked here with opportunity for comment via Google Doc. On Thursday, February 6, from 2:30 - 4:00 pm EST, members of the Globalsl Steering Committee are hosting a discursive webinar for anyone interested in learning more about the meaning and intent of member commitments. Register here. Registration is free but limited because of the network's commitment to discussion. The conversation will be recorded and shared on this website.

Draft Globalsl Network Commitment: Organizations and Institutions

(Please comment, or view others' comments here, in advance of the webinar) The Globalsl Network's mission is:  "Through a network of educational institutions and community organizations, Globalsl advances ethical, critical, and aspirationally de-colonial community-based learning and research for more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities." By joining the Globalsl Network, or re-affirming membership, we commit to partnership-building that exhibits these characteristics. As a program, office, center, or organization working within larger structures, we recognize that several of these commitments are challenging. But we see the importance  of them and commit to working with other network members to achieve them in our context and beyond. By signing below, I commit my center, office, organization, or institution to working in good faith toward Fair Trade Learning principles as strategic areas of effort that advance this broader mission. These principles require me, my institution, and our network to work toward partnerships that exhibit:
  • Common purposes: Partners including un-affiliated community members, community organizations, and educational institutions share common vision(s) at the intersection of education and community-building.
  • Leadership from those who are most affected: Through teaching, research, and project development, systematic efforts are made to amplify the voices, questions, insights, and leadership of individuals most affected by dominant discourses and project interventions.
  • Protections for members of vulnerable populations: My organization will not engage in short-term volunteering in orphanages or residential care centers for vulnerable children, nor will we engage in any form of medical or professional volunteering that program participants are not qualified to do in their home countries. Across settings, we commit to ensuring systematic protections for individuals in vulnerable populations.
  • Participation opportunities among those who are most affected: Particularly in respect to educational programs designed to teach about a place or issue in a specific place, clear efforts are made to ensure that individuals from that place have opportunities to participate, through invitation, credentialing opportunities, scholarships, or some combination thereof.
  • Consciousness and evaluation efforts regarding theories of change: Recognizing that community-based global learning often simultaneously seeks goals regarding both participant learning and external community outcomes, my organization takes steps to clarify our theories of change and to evaluate the efficacy of our efforts in light of those theories.
  • Ethical representation: We regularly review our materials to ensure that efforts to represent our programming serve an educative function, avoiding reliance on simplistic stereotypes that reproduce dichotomies and hero narratives.
  • Intentional environmental and economic impacts and transparency: Through program purchasing, contracting, and arrangement of housing, learning spaces, transportation, or other necessary program components, my institution works to ensure just remuneration, consciously distributed across networks, and with consideration of the environmental impacts of purchasing decisions. Throughout, we work to maximize transparency.
  • Critical visioning of how we move toward more just, inclusive, sustainable communities and global community: Through informal and formal educational environments, we work with others to systematically analyze the world(s) we inhabit today, building our capacities to address our greatest challenges, while also envisioning and enacting the steps we need to build more just, inclusive, and sustainable communities nearby and as members of an interdependent planet.