The Forum for Change at Havergal is a differentiator among independent schools in Canada. It is tasked with bringing the school’s mission to life by fostering in our students the courage, creativity and compassion to engage responsibly in our local and global communities. It does this through collaboration with faculty and staff and through niche programs such as Community Partnerships, Exchange, Excursion and Students Act Now. The Forum for Change is at the forefront of helping students to develop what researcher Katy Swalwell calls an ‘Activist Ally’ identity: the skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary to negotiate privilege in ways that promote justice. It is at the forefront is developing within our students the mindset to embrace ambiguity, have creative confidence and to develop empathy.
A Unique Philosophical Approach: Moving from Charity towards Social Justice
Havergal College created the Forum for Change in 2006 with the mandate to re-interpret the mission of the school: preparing young women to make a difference. Our philosophical approach to community engagement is one of partnership, rooted in a deep respect for people and their perspectives. This is not service – we do not solely help or give. Our students learn and work alongside others in the community towards a shared purpose. We ask students to think deeply about the issues affecting themselves and others in our global community, to critically test their assumptions, to listen, and to eventually take action alongside those with whom they would like to make an impact. Using this approach, we explore the brink of what we know about ‘making a difference’ and learn how to become more effective allies and community leaders.
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson