Written by: Kory M. Saunders and Chris Thompson
As diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice practitioners working in global education, colleagues and sister friends Chris Thompson and Kory Saunders have led workshops, facilitated discussions, and presented numerous sessions at both in-person and virtual conferences, summits and meetings.
Together, they created a community pact to set the tone and invite a sense of community to the space. This pact comprises a collection of suggested guidelines designed to facilitate respectful and inclusive interactions among participants during the session. Designed to be collaborative, time is provided for participants to contribute to the community pact. Before proceeding to the presentation, workshop, discussion, etc., individuals are asked if they agree with the pact to establish a sense of community. The content of the community pact may vary depending on the audience and the topics being amplified.
Using a community pact was introduced to AIFS Abroad by Kory Saunders, and Chris Thompson has incorporated it as a tool within NAFSA's EAKC Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee and both Chris and Kory have included it in the Global Respectful Disruption Summit. The nature of this work and the types of topics explored often require not only intellectual knowledge, but also sharing lived experiences and vulnerability, while creating brave spaces to encourage others to grow past their comfort and fully engage in the topics.
A community pact serves several purposes:
Sets expectations: The pact outlines the expected behaviors and attitudes for participants, promoting a shared understanding of how to engage with one another respectfully and productively.
Encourages inclusivity: By valuing diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, the pact fosters an environment where everyone's voice is heard and valued.
Promotes a sense of belonging: By defining shared values and expectations, the community pact helps participants feel connected to one another and fosters a sense of belonging.
Establishes a brave space: This pact allows participants to have challenging conversations and explore new ideas without fear of judgment or criticism by creating a environment that encourages open communication, vulnerability, and respect.
Facilitates personal growth and learning: By adhering to the community pact, participants engage in meaningful dialogue, learn from each other's experiences, and grow personally.
Amplifies those who are doing the work: Acknowledging and crediting marginalized folxs amplifies their essential work, honors their intellectual contributions, and counteracts historical erasure and appropriation. It's vital for promoting a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives shaping our global world.
A community pact is crucial as it promotes respectful and inclusive interactions in facilitated diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging learning opportunities. It sets clear expectations for behavior, ensuring that all participants understand and agree on how to engage productively. The pact fosters inclusivity, valuing all voices and backgrounds, and cultivates a sense of belonging among participants. It creates a brave space, enabling individuals to explore challenging ideas without fear of judgment, thus enhancing open communication and learning. The pact also facilitates personal growth, as adhering to it enables participants to learn from each other's experiences. In part two, we will share an example of a community pact that we have curated and successfully used in-person and virtually.