Written by: Jenn Flood and Farrah Khan
This past summer, we facilitated Courage to Act’s first All-Star Summer School Course on Creating Institutional Campus Wide Sexual Violence Action Plans, a free online 4-week experiential learning course offered to those leading conversations on sexual violence prevention education at post-secondary institutions. We were inspired to develop this course based on key teachings from the Education and Training Toolkit: Addressing and Preventing Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions, primarily based on key concepts and worksheets from Chapter 5: Develop an Action Plan.
Given that this course was the first of its kind, we were not sure what to expect, knowing that there had never been anything like this before. We were moved by the overwhelming interest from the prevention education community across the country, with over 80 people registered and 50 people (student leaders, campus sexual violence support & education staff and community organizations) in attendance!
As long-time campus sexual violence prevention educators, we know too well the importance for our campuses having institutional action plans. The plans can guide the whole campus community to understand, support and uphold this critical education work. In our initial research creating the Courage to Act report, we learned from SVP offices across the country about the many challenges they face in creating these large-scale, multi-year action plans, including resources and time.
With these challenges in mind, we worked to make the course a creative space for participants to customize their action framework to respond to the needs of their campus community, recognizing that many of those participating in this course were the sole person responsible for prevention education AND the support of survivors on their campus.
By bringing 50 engaged, brilliant and creative educators into one space, our hope was also to help reduce the on-going isolation experienced by those in this field. It was incredibly moving to learn from several participants that they felt that this course helped connect them to a bigger sexual violence prevention education community and gave them access to collective wisdom. For those newer to work, the course allowed for mentorship from more seasoned educators, allowing them to connect and learn from others. One participant shared:
“Learning from folks who have been involved in this work for a long time/have structures established at their institution was incredibly valuable to my work as a new/entry-level position in an institution that did not have a pre-existing action plan, team or objectives.”
One of our biggest takeaways was learning from the student educators in the space. They reminded us of the importance of student involvement and student leadership throughout all aspects of campus education planning and implementation. Their insights were an essential reminder to us all that this work continues to be led by student advocates and leaders, and their involvement is crucial in any form of action planning.
Another insight was that many participants found it helpful to work from the socio-ecological model and upstream model of prevention education to help ground their work. One person shared:
‘The primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention model has been helpful in understanding how our education pieces fit together and what’s missing. It was also helpful to think about how our guiding principles have changed as we have moved through our action plan.”
By the end of the course, each participant shared their campus education action plan. We were blown away by the creativity, the principles that guided the plans and the ideas for operating the plans. Both of us feel honoured and humbled to witness this cohort of changemakers. We are deeply humbled to have been witness to our first All-Star class. We have no doubt that the seeds planted this summer will begin to blossom over the years to come.
To learn more about future All-Star courses or more learning opportunities like this, please visit couragetoact.ca/nationalskillshare.
Suggested Reference : Flood, Jennifer and Khan, Farrah. (2022, August). Reflections on Courage to Act’s First All Star Summer School. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/all-stars-reflections.