Following on from an earlier post, in which Judith Pete, outlined some of the issues around promoting diversity and inclusion in GO-GN, she follows up in this piece with some suggestions for guidelines and principles. I’m enormously grateful to her and the contributors for this work, it is essential that those of us in the Global North don’t just make assumptions about how diversity can be improved, but rather are guided by practical suggestions we can act upon. We will build these into future iterations of GO-GN and hopefully they will help shape wider policy at Hewlett and elsewhere. Also, our thanks to the Hewlett Foundation for funding this work, very few institutions have done such a radical rethink and examination of their own practice (This intro bit is by me, Martin, what follows is from Judith).

Introduction:

GO-GN is a global network of OER doctoral researchers. However of these, only 24% conduct their research in the Global South, covering India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Uruguay, China, Kenya, Fiji, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. GO-GN has a big role in facilitating connections among researchers and practitioners who are interested in OER. It also has the responsibility of creating an inclusive community through championing, promoting and applying diversity, equity and inclusion principles, while fulfilling the network’s aims of raising the profile of open education researches, supporting PhD candidates in the field, engaging with alumni, as well as developing openness as a process of research especially in the Global South and beyond.

There is concern that, even with all the GO-GN’s efforts to be open and willingness to be diverse, the Global South is still under-represented and are unable to reach those who could potentially benefit the most from being part of the network. It is against this background that the GO-GN tea, commissioned the development of strategic guidelines that could help the network to address the concern.  

The suggested GO-GN strategy guidelines should therefore incorporate and embrace practices that are inclusive, equitable and diverse so as to enhance the achievement of this noble dream. We need to reflect on how we do things, and together learn what we need to do differently, and how.

The guidelines were drawn from interviews with GO-GN members from the Global South, relevant practitioners and experts on OER and distance learning, expert’s experiences and views on diversity, equity and inclusion. An outcome of a workshop of #OER19 in Galway is also incorporated. For the three principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, an interpretation, context and recommendation is provided.

Diversity

  • Meaning: Considers but not limited to culture, ability, reproductive status, health, criminal record, class and appearance.
  • Context: Acknowledges limitations of people’s understanding of diversity hence appropriate actions
  • Recommendation: Conduct a diversity assessment within the network

Equity

  • Meaning: Recognizes barriers which might be intergenerational, and part of a historical legacy affecting individuals and communities.
  • Context: Embraces an openness to critics & equal participation; nurtures ownership hence deepens open practices
  • Recommendation: Review GO-GN mission and vision to closely link with DEI concepts and PhD registration form to include elements such as disability, race, religion, nationality, gender.

Inclusion

  • Meaning: Considers & acknowledges the marginalized voices, a sense of belonging, valued, leveraged, welcomed and respected.
  • Context: Recognizes fairness and justice in all practices
  • Recommendation: GO-GN to acknowledge the injustice of the past; Resources allocation to needy students; Map to show countries not universities; check DEI in the GOGN awards 

Universal practices for effective recruitment procedures

Since OER is still a new concept in most of the Global South countries, the GO-GN network could promote DEI through the following actions:

  • Initiate partnership programmes with local universities to enhance visibility and marketing
  • Use members (students and alumni) as ambassadors to GO-GN in the respective countries (present  in local conferences)
  • Accept Interlinked ICT and OER projects or researches from students from Global South
  • Rigorous workshops/seminars on linkages and learning for capacity building on OER
  • Consider opening up for master students since they are the majority
  • Improve visibility of GO-GN from the website (diversity and inclusion) should be captured; mission, vision, aims and objectives should be clear
  • Provide small research grants to conduct research as a motivation once in a while to needy students from the Global South
  • Conduct a self-evaluation so that guidelines (policy) should focus on diversity, equity and inclusion 

GO-GN Commitments:

  • To create an environment in which individual differences and contributions of all members are recognized and valued.
  • To create an open research community that promotes dignity and respect for everyone irrespective of your race, sex, disability, religion, nationality or gender.
  • To make open research capacity building and development opportunities available to needy students from Global South.
  • To promote equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels, which GO-GN believes is good practice and for common good.
  • To encourage researchers and practitioners who feels they have been subject to any form of injustice to raise their concerns so that GO-GN can apply corrective measures for future growth.
  • To regularly review all GO-GN open practices and selection procedures so that fairness, diversity, equity and inclusion upheld at all cost.   

Pledges:

As a global network, GO-GN promises to:

  • Inform all the members, stakeholders, friends and sponsors that an diversity, equity and inclusion guidelines are in operation and that they are obliged to comply with its requirements and promote fairness at all cost. The guidelines will also be drawn to the attention of funding agencies, stakeholders, new members and all other interested parties.
  • Monitor and review the guidelines annually to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion is continually promoted at all levels of GO-GN’s operation and practices.

Cover photo by Rochelle Brown on Unsplash