At Pearson College UWC we condemn racism and injustice in all its forms. The mission of the College and that of the United World Colleges movement is to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.
Our values stand for international and intercultural understanding. We exist to do the hard work of building communities free from prejudice and intolerance irrespective of gender, socioeconomic, cultural, racial, religious and national backgrounds. We support and stand with the people from all communities, but especially with the young people, who are crying out and acting for justice.
At Pearson, we encourage and support brave and uncomfortable discussions that challenge accepted wisdom — always with the goal of generating positive change. We know there is much work to do and we acknowledge that individually and collectively, our actions have not always been supportive of racial justice, equity and cultural humility. For any student or employee, past or present, who has felt the weight of not being supported, we are committed to doing better. We must continue to evolve, understand and, most importantly, listen. Please also remember that, if you wish to register a specific concern you can do so through the confidential EthicsPoint reporting system or directly as outlined on our website.
Late last year, we asked Dr. Sandrina de Finney, Faculty of Human and Social Development, University of Victoria, to facilitate a consultation with Pearson students, faculty and staff on issues of race, racism, racialization and intercultural relations at the College. In her conclusions, she wrote:
“…There are many positive outcomes and benefits to learning in a vibrant, diverse multicultural global community….it was also outlined that issues of race, racism, ethnic and racial discrimination warrant their own discussions and interventions. Bringing multiple cultures together does not in itself address or resolve issues of racism and racialization that exist in various forms in all societies, and that are historically entrenched in white western settler states such as Canada and the U.S.
Dr. de Finney called on the entire community to move forward with courage:
“We invite the Pearson community to co-create brave spaces, where we can have honest and productive conversations that aim to shift racial formations in our community. These conversations will be difficult and loaded yet are still necessary and vital to holding ourselves accountable, intervening into racism in all its forms, and planning long-term for anti-racist education. We hope this vision can be embedded throughout campus life, curriculum, staff, faculty and student orientations and relations, recruitment, ongoing training, and daily practices.”
We recognize with humility our own limitations and biases. Over the past several years, we have asked for guidance from experts and educators such as Dr. de Finney. This year, we also worked with Dr. Lisa Gunderson who led “Understanding Bias in Education” faculty training that focused on education, the dynamics of power and privilege in classes, with a concentration on race identities. We are excited about the work to establish an Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan with Marcia Dawson and look forward to its implementation in addressing equity and inclusion.
None of this is to suggest the work is complete. There is much more to be done. There are many voices we need to listen to from campus, from our alumni and from UWCers and others around the world. We will continue to work with students and our entire community, and we would like to hear from alumni and others who have suggestions of productive actions we can take to fight racism and to promote inclusion and respect for all.
With respect and humility,
President and Head of College
Pearson College UWC