Written by: Britney De Costa
We’re excited to share Courage to Act’s latest research-to-action project: Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning, one of the first national research studies on this issue.
The first two phases of the Courage to Act project revealed a significant gap in research addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence (GBV) in experiential learning spaces. While there is increasing attention to workplace sexual violence, most, if not all, research on sexual harassment leaves out the population of students who are completing experiential learning opportunities such as internships, co-op, placements, and other opportunities that integrate academic and workplace learning.
Because of the power differentials between students and employers, supervisors, and instructors, along with the fact that many students rely on experiential learning opportunities to complete their education and gain meaningful employment post-graduation, these students are vulnerable to sexual harassment and GBV in the workplace. Exacerbating this is the fact that students have been deeply economically impacted by the pandemic and are facing increased pressures to gain meaningful employment. This is especially true for Indigenous, racialized, and disabled students, among other marginalized identities, and is particularly concerning considering students from these communities already experience higher rates of GBV.
Given this context, it is important that we don’t ignore the unique realities of sexual harassment and GBV in experiential learning spaces. This research is long-needed, and this need has intensified in the past couple years. The goal of this project is to produce tangible recommendations and tools that will support prevention and response efforts specific to the experiential learning context.
To achieve this goal, we’ll build on the literature review and environmental scan conducted in phase two of the Courage to Act project, and engage with stakeholders – including students and career development and experiential learning faculty and staff – to:
(1) outline existing institutional processes for responding to sexual harassment in experiential learning;
(2) define the legislative and policy context; and
(3) identify promising practices for addressing and preventing sexual harassment in experiential learning.
Using what we learn through this initial information-gathering and stakeholder engagement phase, we’ll develop policy and legislative recommendations and produce tools for practice that will support prevention and response. We’re looking forward to contributing to making experiential learning a safer pathway for students, and to bring attention to this issue.
For those who work in career development or experiential learning spaces, we invite you to join us for a Research Design Jam on Wednesday, February 9th from 1:00-2:00 PM EST. This is an opportunity to share your ideas and perspectives on what we should be looking at and who we should be engaging with to better understand and develop responses to sexual harassment in experiential learning spaces. Email email@example.com with any questions.
Stay tuned for more updates and ways to get involved!
Suggested Citation: De Costa, B. (2022, January). Sexual Harassment in Experiential Learning: A Courage to Act Research-to-Action Project. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/experiential-learning-project.