Diversity training – a useful first course

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AWM Trustee, Elizabeth Oxborrow Cowan shares her experience of completing diversity and inclusion training and becoming a Diversity Ally.

2020 has been a turbulent year in the long-running debate around diversity and the archives profession has had its fair share of that turbulence.  Whilst the Archives and Records Association (ARA) and the National Archives are working to encourage change it is up to individual services and archive professionals to take action if change is going to happen. As an ARA Diversity Ally I am seeking to help that change.  Perhaps this course might be a good first step for you.

Understanding diversity and inclusion

The Future Learn course Understanding diversity and inclusion is a free course that provides  thought-provoking and engaging  initiation into considering diversity and practising it your own life.   Over three weeks  it looks at five areas: phases of diversity dexterity; attitudes, skills, and knowledge supporting diversity; unconscious biases; ethnocentric and ethno-relative mindsets; elements of diversity and inclusion. The approach is centred around the student considering questions that draw on their own experience and concerns but also encourage the participant to think how they can effect positive change in their daily lives.  Sharing responses with other students is a key  element and a fantastic learning opportunity from others’ experiences.  It is a very different course where if you want to get the most out of it you need to be prepared to share and be honest.  In return the debate provided by other participants is honest and supportive.

The course is set out over three weeks although you can take longer to complete it. The course guidance says three hours a week but this is very dependent on how much you engage. The first week might well take up to six hours.  There is no  ‘homework’, the course is self-contained and you can dip in and  out of it as time allows.   There are great suggestions on how to take the learning into your own life, particularly in the last week of the course.  Check out the ‘flip it’ approach!

Suitable for all

I found this a really useful course and I would recommend it to any colleague regardless of their responsibilities or seniority.  The course facilitator, Charles Calahan at Purdue University, is warm and encouraging but also nudges you out of your comfort zone. Definitely one for both professional and personal development.

If you would like to discuss the course or about becoming a Diversity Ally for the Archives and Records Association just drop me a line at elizabeth@elizabethoc.co.uk.

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