Systems change without equity is not systems change
Shifting deep-rooted patterns
At the School of System Change we believe that systems change is about shifting the deep-rooted patterns, structures and worldviews that are perpetuating oppression and ecological collapse. We understand inequality, injustice and extractive economic models to be the result of paradigms that believe in the inherent superiority of one people over another, and where humans are seen as above other forms of life; namely Western and white supremacist perspectives.
We work towards a just and regenerative world, which means we are committed to equity as fundamental to systems change; as such we put it at the heart of everything we do, as we strive to continually live and evolve our collective work. We seek to create safe and brave spaces for people to engage in learning together. This is one way to address power, justice and inequity in the world, because we believe that learning is change.
Our ongoing commitment
We acknowledge the power and responsibility we hold in our role as a convenor and learning provider, placing multiple ways of knowing and awareness of difference as fundamental design principles in our programmes. We work collaboratively with different contributors and curate resources across broad fields, as well as training our facilitators in equity and diversity, to support people to enter into the discomfort of this work.
We are actively engaged in our own learning and actions around equity and will continually take steps to do more in this work, including in relation to our own operational model. We are very grateful to our participants, collaborators and thought-partners who have and continue to challenge us and experiment with us on this journey.
Some of our practical actions
As part of our application process, we have an anonymised equal opportunities form to help us continue to explore who is interested in learning with us, without tracking difference in individuals. Please consider filling it out if you’re applying to a programme, this is one way to help us evolve our approach.
During courses we provide regular opportunities to provide the School team with feedback (anonymously if preferred). We strive to communicate clearly with all participants the process through which they can raise any issues or grievances, and provide listening spaces where necessary.
We endeavour to make our courses financially accessible to people in less powerful economies, smaller organisations, and more challenging economic circumstances. Tiered course fees mean higher rates support people on discounted rates. Partnerships with philanthropic organisations enable some bursary places.
We are questioning the words we use to describe our approach: we don’t use “inclusion” as this can suggest the powerful must make efforts to include others while remaining at the centre, rather than evolve ourselves. We see “equity” as a very different framing to “equality”. We refer to “diversity” as a quality of a whole or group, and are exploring using “difference” when thinking about individuals so some people do not get categorised as more “diverse” than others.
We have published our Equity & Diversity Handbook for you to view.
"Systems Change pursued without Deep Equity is, in our experience, dangerous and can cause harm, and in fact leaves some of the critical elements of systems unchanged. And ‘equity’ pursued without ‘Systems Change’ is not comprehensive at the level of effectiveness currently needed."