We are committed to further developing our community into an equal, diverse and inclusive place to study, work and collaborate in. Our operating model stresses community engagement, accountability and proactive development.
Agreeing guidelines for inclusive interaction in course
Feeling safe affects how individuals envision what happens if they speak out, try new things and how comfortable they feel in their surroundings. But not only that, this affects a person's ability to learn, focus and act in an organized manner. Feeling unsafe in teaching and learning situations might lead to lack of participation and interaction, not sharing and experimenting and not feeling included.
Adopting these guidelines supports achieving learning goals: they help clarify expectations, cultivate a sense of belonging among students, and facilitate students’ ability to engage productively with one another across their differences, and develop their transferable skills. Every teacher can contribute to the development of supportive environment by creating a community in which all students feel a sense of belonging and a willingness to engage in discourse. You can start with your own course or a student group.
How to start?
One of the core practices could be to start the course by collectively agreeing on inclusive interaction guidelines. This means common guidelines for sensitive and considerate communication that are agreed with all students and staff. These guidelines should be discussed and agreed together. Return to these guidelines also during the course if needed.
A suggestion for guidelines to be copied and modified for your course or other event is available at the bottom of the page.
Remember also to discuss the intended learning outcomes, content and the evaluation criteria with your students. Make sure that students understand these and revisit these goals during and at the end of the course to see if they were reached. Use various feedback methods, in addition to teacher lead feedback, also peer feedback and anonymous feedback are something to consider. Use the opportunity to collect feedback during and at the end of the course to develop your teaching further.
Guidelines for inclusive interaction
Meet people around you with an open mind and understand that others will come to situations with diverse backgrounds and different experiences from yours. Respect the diversity of people and their boundaries, and give everyone space to be themselves.
Try to recognize how your own position, background and experiences affects to your thinking patterns, perspectives and your way of working with people. Our unconscious biases and stereotypes may be attributed unfairly to different groups of people, so be careful about assumptions and generalizations you make. You cannot know the experiences, thoughts, life situation, or self-defined identity of others.
Stay open to fresh perspectives, share experiences, listen others and experiment other ways to foster open discourse, encourage free exchange of ideas and build mutual trust. Give space to everyone and make sure everyone is involved. Respect each other’s time, space & effort. It’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to disagree.
Have discussions with colleagues, read books, listen to podcasts, and be open to change your view based on new learnings.
Use language that everyone understands. Use welcoming communication that makes others feel safe and creates inoffensive work or study environment. If you learn that something you’ve said was experienced as disrespectful or excluding, listen carefully and try to understand that perspective and apologize. Try to forgive others if they harm you by accident.
We are bound to make mistakes, so give each other room to make mistakes and be compassionate to yourself and others. Strive to see your and others mistakes as valuable elements of the learning process.
Recognizing and removing inclusion barriers is an on-going process. If you notice inclusion barriers do not hesitate to act. Respectfully tackle biased language, if you witness it, by firmly and non-judgmentally confronting what you don’t find acceptable. Do not hesitate to ask for help if you feel you need even a little help: support is available, and Aalto has clear shared principles and processes for handling these situations.
In all cases and with all questions you can contact Aalto's harassment and inappropriate contact persons. They can be contacted confidentially and they do not proceed your case without your permission. See Preventing harassment and inappropriate conduct for more information.
Download and modify a slide for your course
You are free to download, modify and use the slide below in your purpose. It is important that the guidelines are introduced and agreed upon as a group as well as in smaller groups. This list is not complete and not fit for all purposes, feel free to edit or make additions throughout the course. Remember shared responsibility for making our community safe and welcoming for all.
Fostering equality, diversity and inclusivity in the Aalto Community.
"Diversity is part of who we are. Aalto university wants to foster a community that shines by working together", says provost Kristiina Mäkelä in her speech about equality, diversity and inclusion.
We all contribute to equality, inclusion and diversity of our community in our everyday life working and studying at Aalto. All of our daily encounters with colleagues, students, faculty, partners and collaborators build are opportunities to build an inclusive culture.
Future-led Learning podcast
The Future-led Learning podcast offers a platform for university educators to reflect their ideas about teaching and learning.