Extension’s Learning Community for Inclusive Organizational Citizenship (Learning Community) is a cohort-based professional learning and development opportunity open to all Extension staff. As a professional community of practice, participants meet every other week over the course of approximately seven months starting in the fall of 2021.
Cohort sessions meet virtually and in-person and are facilitated with the support of self-directed readings, dialogue, reflection, and other pedagogical approaches. During the course of the Learning Community, participants will closely examine how current and historical issues shape their personal and professional lives, and how they influence and interrelate to the context of Extension work across the state.
Cohorts will examine and discuss topics that include:
- Race, identity, intersectionality and power
- White supremacy culture and systemic privilege
- Inclusive leadership
- Generative conflict
Through participation in this Learning Community, participants will be able to:
- Reflect on and begin to deconstruct their socialized beliefs about whiteness, race and power;
- Build an understanding of oppression as a force that operates on 4 levels: ideological, interpersonal, institutional, and internalized;
- Develop ways to notice and address power and privilege in the workplace and understand how anti-racism and anti-oppression work benefits oneself and the workplace as a whole;
- Build tools and an overarching intersectional anti-racist lens that foster equity and belonging in the workplace, including relationship building, engaging in constructive conflict, and inclusive practices.
Virtual Face-to-Face Sessions:
Participants will attend sessions every other week, which are facilitated virtually by OAIC staff and guest facilitators. Over the course of 7 months, participants will have the opportunity to share stories, process learning and unlearning, and engage in practice together.
Participants will be provided with materials for each session (e.g. readings, podcasts, documentaries, etc.). Learning materials will be housed on Canvas. Reflection questions and discussion board prompts will support sustained reflection on weeks without Face-to-Face Sessions.
In-Person Deep Dive Sessions:
Participants in the Learning Community will convene on two separate occasions in-person to establish and deepen relationships, and to allow for a broader exploration of topics through dialogue and practice. In-person sessions will last two days with an overnight stay.
There will be two cohorts offered in the fall. When you apply, you will be able to indicate your preference.
Virtual Group Sessions: Thursdays 10:30am-12pm
Start date: Thursday, September 16 (Please note that the first week is asynchronous and therefore should not conflict with Yom Kippur observance.)
End date: Thursday, April 7
Dates for In-Person Session: 9/29 & 30 (Location: Madison, WI)
Virtual Group Sessions: Tuesdays 1-2:30pm
Start date: Tuesday, September 21
End date: Tuesday, April 12
Dates for In-Person Session: 10/6 & 7
- Discuss your interest with your supervisor.
- Fill out the online application.
- Application opens: Monday, July 19
- Application closes: Monday, August 20
A selection committee will choose applicants with the goal of creating two balanced cohorts. This balance is based on participants’ title, position, geographic location, and other self-disclosed identities such as race/ethnicity, gender, ability status, etc.
All participants will be notified of their acceptance within one week of the application closing date and will be able to confirm any adjustments to their calendars at that point. All other applicants will be placed on a waitlist and contacted if a spot opens.
What is the goal of the Learning Community for Inclusive Organizational Citizenship?
The goal of the Learning Community is to foster a culture of equity and belonging by:
- Exploring the complexity of our social identities and how they influence the work and lives of Extension professionals;
- Promoting open, constructive learning and dialogue around the social, relational, historical and political factors that shape the context of Extension as a workplace.
The Learning Community is one of nine total initiatives that outline the “Call to Action: Extension’s Strategic Commitment to Inclusivity & Anti-Racism Work.” It aims to provide a sustained space in which Extension staff can do the necessary inner work of building self-awareness in our socio-political context and with the support of a trusted community.
Why 7 months?
Working towards equity calls us to consistently examine our identities and behaviors and their relationship to power and privilege. While this work is lifelong, this 7-month dialogue-based experience will provide participants with the tools and community needed to develop a sustained daily practice of learning and unlearning.
What does the process look and feel like?
Virtual face-to-face and in-person sessions will be gently facilitated and co-created spaces in which participants are invited to explore their own stories and experiences and share what they are learning within a trusted community.
Some of the tools that the facilitators will utilize are:
- Building critical consciousness grounded in history, through the use of documentaries, podcasts and readings.
- Self-Reflection through the use of dialogue, journaling, and guiding questions.
- Storytelling through relationship-building and upholding shared values and agreements.
- Practice through the use of case studies and personal experiences.
While the majority of conversations will take place in a mixed-race setting, there also may be the opportunity to incorporate race-based affinity groups to allow participants a deeper dive into their shared experiences.
Who is eligible to participate in the Learning Community?
Any Division of Extension employee who has been employed for at least 12 months by September 2021. Due to the consistent time commitment involved with the Learning Community, it shouldn’t be taken at the same time as the New Colleague Onboarding Training.
Do I need approval from my supervisor to attend?
Because of the time investment involved in this learning opportunity, it is important that your supervisor is aware of and supports your participation. If your supervisor needs more information, please have them contact Caitlin Yunis or Dominic Ledesma prior to the application deadline.
Is prior experience required for participation?
No. The only thing required of participants is to be engaged learners during this process. All participants will have much to contribute and much to gain from this community of practice.
Are there certain Extension positions that are prioritized over others?
No. Our goal in seeking applications is to build cohorts that are balanced in terms of geographic region and Institute, position, years employed with UW-Extension, and self-disclosed social identity.
If I have participated in a similar type of experience, can I still apply?
If you’ve participated in a similarly structured experience and are wondering if this Learning Community is appropriate for you, you may consult Caitlin Yunis before submitting an application.
Is there a cost to participate in the Learning Community?
No. Costs associated with participation are covered by the Division of Extension. However, employees will need to fill out a Travel Expense Reimbursement (TER) for travel expenses associated with in-person sessions.