The workshop which was held on the 7th of July, 2017 started with a brief Q&A on the importance of diversity and inclusion. In about 15 minutes the group had given a lot of reasons why diversity is important but only a few people mentioned inclusion. This was good and this formed an integral part of the workshop. It was my objective that by the end of the session, participants will not only appreciate diversity but also understand the need for inclusion.
I projected a slide which talked about diversity and I used my obsession with nature (particularly the ocean) to explain the reason why diversity is not enough until inclusion is established. I said, “When I watch any documentary about the ocean, I get excited and I think you all do – why? Because the ocean gives a lot of beauty – it’s colorful with a lot of species. The beauty of the ocean is possible because of the diversity of organisms. Some are colorful, others are not. Some are fascinating, scary, beautiful, amazing, ugly, and think of all the adjectives you can use to describe all that we see in the ocean. If the ocean chooses to accept diversity but refuses to foster inclusion, we will not see its beauty.”
This analogy helped to paint a good picture to the audience. Additionally, I made it known to them that inclusion is very important for humans to enrich our understanding in the reasons why people do what they do – helps us to understand and appreciate different cultures.
Moving on, I launched into Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). So no one in the room had an idea what ESD is. This was another thing that made me happy – the session was really impactful. I explained ESD, then furthered to mention the need for ESD in modern education and how Africa, in particular, is far from attaining a sustainable economy because we lack ESD in our education system. ESD provides an environment for people to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to build a sustainable future – we lack this in our systems. We only give the knowledge to students and that’s it.
It was very interesting when participants from the University of Lagos – Nigeria, reacted to the session on ESD. They were very interested to have learned about ESD and totally agreed that ESD is needed to build the future of young people in helping Africa to reach a sustainable future. At the end of the session, they extended an invitation to me to deliver the Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics Workshop in University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Following that, participants were divided into four groups to undertake an exercise in system thinking and critical thinking. The task was simple – most often our solutions to the problems we encounter in life leads to other problems in the future. In view, we need to make thoughtful decisions which take into consideration all factors that could be affected via the solutions we make. I showed a video of system thinking based on a story of cats in Borneo and based on that participants were asked to provide solutions to increasing crime rates, traffic congestion, and air pollution.
Participants did a great job delivering critical solutions to these problems. I advised that participants keep practicing system thinking and critical thinking in every problem they encounter in life – no matter how small it may be. “Always keep your eyes on the larger picture, focus on the long term and make decisions based on that,” I said.
Now, I am waiting to deliver the Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics workshop in Nigeria.
Thanks to Earth Charter, University of Peace, and Inclusive Leadership Cooperation for their support and online training they offer to young people across the globe.