We invite you to join the Being Circles Pilot Project - a joint effort launched by the University of Iowa College of Education, the University of Iowa Division of Student Life, and The Multicultural Initiatives Research Team Institute. Being Circles are an organizational strategy that supports sustainable anti-racist practice.Each Being Circle consists of a small group of six individuals, consisting of faculty and staff.
Being Circles offer a space for personal and professional reflection that translates into active participation in organizational change efforts. Being Circles groups will meet six times for two-hours between September thru April 2020.
Much of our professional lives are understandably consumed by what we do and less of an emphasis on how we do it. When faced with an enduring problem such as structural racism, people and organizations seldom consider who we are, what role we can play, and how to work together in relationship to transform the organization. We often focus on an outcome—such as a plan or a list of recommendations. A process-oriented approach suggests that we engage in ongoing dialogue that creates a culture that intentionally examines racism within the organization and acts toward system change. The Being Circles offer a particular way of being from which our best change efforts flow. Based on previous research, we know that participants in Being Circles:
- Build a stronger sense of individual purpose and integrity;
- Build a greater capacity to sit with one’s own discomfort and that of others within difficult dialogues;
- Expand their capacity to be fully present to others in ways that affirm and heal;
- Increase skill in asking the honest, open questions that help others uncover their own wisdom;
- Develop greater confidence to seek or create communities of support;
- Increased understanding, appreciation and respect for human differences, based in deeper awareness of the identity, societal structures, and integrity of ourselves and others
- Greater capacity to build the relational trust that helps the organization transform racist practices.
Participation in Being Circles requires a full commitment for the academic year. The pilot includes only 10 groups each consisting of 6 individuals. Participation in Being Circles will include a 2.5 hour Orientation Training and a 1.5 hour protocol training before launching your six 2-hour Being Circle meetings over the course of the academic year, and participation in research activities (participant interest survey, a pre/post survey, a focus group session, and a climate assessment).
Outside of the individual meetings, your participation in your Being Circle is driven by your questions, dilemmas, curiosities, etc. surrounding this organizational change effort. In other words, you will only need to prepare what you will reflect upon with the group between sessions. This might include, but is not limited to – reflections on personal, professional, or structural barriers, successes, or challenges you might be facing as you work to support and implement strategies for a more inclusive culture in your work area. Each circle operates both anonymously and confidentially. More details will be offered on this aspect of the process during the information session.
Individuals interested in becoming a member of a Being Circle, must first attend ONE Information Sessions before committing to the rest of the process. There are two options:
- Friday, August 7, 1-2pm
- Tuesday, August 11, 3:30-4:30pm
After you commit to participating, then you must attend ONE of the Being Circles Orientation Training Sessions. There are three options:
- Monday, September 14th, 2:30-5:00 PM
- Sunday, September 20th, 3:00-5:30 PM
- Thursday, September 24th, 3:00-5:30 PM
You must also attend a Being Circle Protocol Training with your assigned group of six. These will be scheduled between September 19th-28th via email.
Following this training your Being Circle of six colleagues will meet monthly for two hours calls via Zoom.
All Being Circles and trainings take place on Zoom.
If you are interested in learning more at one of the Being Circle Information Sessions, please register here: Survey Link.
If you have specific questions about the Being Circles, please contact Professor Sherry K. Watt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited about this project! It is an important step in our process of implementing meaningful change in our organization as it relates to structural racism and other limiting barriers for inclusion. We encourage each of you to consider participating!