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How Can Post-Secondary Institutions Address Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning?

Join Courage to Act members nationwide for the second Courage Challenge of 2024! This month, we’re taking steps to address sexual harassment in experiential learning. To get started, check out our new Learning Guide for Addressing Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning.

When Possibility Seeds began researching sexual harassment in experiential learning, we knew that it was a prevalent concern. However, we were still dismayed to see just how common it is: 1 in 2 students had been subjected to sexual harassment, and almost three-quarters of staff and faculty were aware of at least one instance of a student subjected to sexual harassment in their experiential learning. 

The pervasiveness of this issue is made worse by the prevailing attitude that sexual harassment is a “price to pay” for entry into an industry or career. This reality was evident in our research with students who spoke about sexual harassment as something to “put up with,” qualifying their experiences as “not serious enough” to report or even to access support.  

But students don’t develop these attitudes and beliefs in a vacuum. They learn from the way we as a society downplay and normalize instances of sexual harassment, the way we talk about sexual harassment as just “what happens” or excuse it as just “how people act.” When we fail to recognize the harm and violence that is occurring, we create conditions for sexual harassment to go unchecked, depriving society of talent, shattering dreams and goals, and leaving lasting impacts on students’ careers, lives, and general well-being. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Challenging this deeply ingrained acceptance is paramount. We need to dismantle the idea that sexual harassment is something students need to put up with as they pursue their education and explore their career pathways. Acknowledgment of the issue through recognition and understanding is the first step to ensuring students’ safety throughout every aspect of their academic experience.

This is where we invite you to begin. This month’s challenge will support you in learning foundational knowledge on sexual harassment in experiential learning to help you better understand and recognize the issue, giving you the basis for continued work to ensure safer working and learning opportunities for students. 

About the Learning Guide for Addressing Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning

Possibility Seeds is thrilled to offer this free, self-paced learning guide that serves as a roadmap for engaging the strategies, resources, and tools that have been developed as part of Possibility Seeds’ Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning Research-to-Action Project

This learning guide is intended for post-secondary staff, faculty and administrators, career centers, and experiential learning providers to learn foundational knowledge on sexual harassment in experiential learning; engage with resources and tools for responding and developing institutional frameworks; and reflect on and apply practical steps to create safer experiential learning opportunities for students. 

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