Global Engagement Lab
For our inaugural JTC Global Engagement Lab, EDGE invited funders from around the world to join us from November to April 2018 in a process of co-learning, collaboration, wisdom-sharing and practice building.
The group focuses on themes ranging from explorations of commoning, agroecology and food sovereignty to notions of buen vivir and municipalism. Starting with broad thematic areas such as these, they dig deeper with networks of peers, activists and civil society experts to enhance understanding of theoretical frames and to explore concrete, real world practice in different contexts. Throughout the six months, participants bring their learnings back to building philanthropic strategies for supporting systemic alternatives.
From November 2017 to April 2018, an international cohort of funders will co-learn, collaborate and build strategies to actualize the positive impact philanthropy can have on systems change and a just transition to a new economy. The first cohort is composed by very engaged funders!
The first in-person meeting took place at La Bergerie, near Paris, in November 2017. The second in-person meeting will happen in New Orleans, right before the EDGE Forum, in April 2018.
- It focuses both on theoretical frames and concrete examples of systemic alternatives from around the world, combining intellectual/academic, political/historical, and cultural/personal education with practical skills building.
- It facilitates “deep dives” into civil society work on the ground while experimenting with funding methods that meet the challenges of supporting systemic change.
- It works via a living curriculum* co-created with global engagement lab members themselves so that themes, design and tools offered by key movement partners, civil society leaders and radical edge funders will be responsive to the pathways decided on by the lab participants themselves.
- Participation in two retreats with two dozen deeply engaged funders, social movement partners and facilitators from around the world.
- Peer to Peer sessions with another funder from the group working in a different setting/country/context than you to help strengthen an intersectional and global worldview in support of systemic change philanthropy.
- An opportunity to shape the future of systemic change funding as a whole, via invitations to contribute to an emerging JTC Funder Guide that will be widely disseminated to the field of philanthropy.
- An invaluable inside exploration of the most progressive concepts and strategies of our times, and a community of like-minded colleagues to help you put your learnings into practice.
- Networking support and connections to other group participants and civil society allies throughout the eight-month process when you travel to conferences and cities.
- An opportunity to help shape strategies to shift our wider philanthropic community from transactional to transformational responses that better address the root causes of the crises we face.
*What is a living curriculum?
“Living Curriculum” means that while a structure for the cohort is ready at the beginning, cohort members have the opportunity to shift the curriculum as we go. The group starts with a baseline of broad systemic change themes, and ydecide which are most relevant to explore and strategize further.
The arc of the Global Engagement Lab is focused on philanthropy’s role in supporting long term transformational change through key themes of study and practice such as: buen vivir, the commons, agroecology, food sovereignty, municipalism and other related concepts from around the globe.
For each theme local experts, activists and thought leaders help the group to “zoom out” and “zoom in,” exploring broad context and pedagogy followed by specific examples of work being done in real time. For each themed conversation we weave together principles of gender, racial, class and disability justice.
Together, our collaborative learning allows:
- Clarify systems change language and contexts and make connections among them;
- Curate discussions relevant to funders who want to support systemic alternatives but need help convincing boards, shifting portfolios, and making connections to groups on the ground;
- Dig in to intersectionality of issues in ways that will help funders stuck in foundation “silos”; and
- Call out underlying narratives and worldviews that back up the old, and draw out those that build the new.
The group has around 20 funders who are sparked by systemic change ideas and principles and may already be working within a Just Transition/systemic change framework, but who are ready for deeper learning and experiences.
While the cohort is for funders, participants learn from and with movement leaders, thought leaders, radical grantmakers and innovators who are already working on the fringes of traditional systems. Our space is intersectional and experimental.
Our goal is to build community within the group and follow your leads to make the cohorts as diverse, comprehensive and effective as possible.
What exactly will I be committing to?
*Please note, because of the intimate nature of this cohort and our goals of deep, intersectional learning, full participation is required in all elements of the programming.
Two In-Person Retreats
Monthly Virtual Conferencing:
- Online video conferences for facilitated discussions, sharing information, exploring collaborative opportunities and developing strategic initiatives, if appropriate. These two-hour virtual co-learning spaces are organized within two separate time zones to accommodate participants in different parts of the world.
- Participation in the JTC monthly webinar series, open to the full EDGE community. This is your opportunity to bounce ideas off a broader audience, and possibly curate or moderate a webinar on a topic of your choice.
Readings – and Writings:
- EDGE provides background readings before the Global Lab launches in November and before each monthly online conference, and participants can share their own articles. You will be encouraged and supported to produce blog articles if you are moved to do so, to be shared within and beyond the EDGE community.
On-Going Collaborations – No Commitments, but an Invitation!
- Global Lab participants discover new allies and develop affinities around areas of mutual interest. In addition to encouraging collective leadership around monthly webinars or in helping guide deep dive co-learning within the group, EDGE does its best to support ongoing collaborations or strategic initiatives that emerge from this experience and time together.
For us, participants in the Global Engagement Lab become, by the very nature of this journey together, funders at the “leading edge” of collective efforts promoting systems change.
Aside from the two in-person retreats at the beginning and end of the six month cohort, you need to reserve up to 6+ hours per month for this program.
- 2 hours – Time Zone video conference workshop to deepen both the personal and practical learning and experimentation of that month’s theme.
- 1 hour – With your international peer partner
- 1-2 hours – reading and assignments
- 1 + [1-2] hours – Optional personal coaching, workshopping of new practices, etc.
Of course, no one will be breathing down your neck!
While 6+ hours per month is ideal, we understand the difficulty of predicting schedules and workload. However, this lab is participatory and generative — the more time you give, the more we’ll all get out of it.