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Welcoming Communities – an Online Course of Exploratory Discussions

In partnership with the Diversity Relations Council and the Center for Lifelong Learning at Leisure World in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Interactivity Foundation is facilitating an online course of exploratory small-group discussions on the topic of Welcoming Communities.  In this course, registered participants from Leisure World will meet weekly online via Zoom, on Friday afternoons from 3–4:30 pm (ET), for six weeks starting Friday, March 12th.  In each session, participants will be divided into break-out rooms for facilitated small-group conversations: initially to collaboratively explore and expand on different understandings of what it means to be a “welcoming community;” and later to develop different possibilities for enabling the “welcoming communities” of our future.

The six class discussions for this course will be participatory, interactive, and additive. The “Course Outline,” below, lists stages and session titles that broadly describe the arc of the discussions and an overall outline for the class. However, the specific content of each session will depend primarily on the contributions and directions suggested by participants. The discussion questions for each session will be modified from week-to-week to integrate the concerns, values, ideas, and possibilities they develop along the way.

Course Outline & Sample Discussion Questions

Stage One: Expanding our Sense of “Community” and “Welcoming Community”

Session 1:  Initial exploration of “community”

  • What does “community” mean to you?
  • What different kinds of communities are you part of—and why?
  • What communities have you joined and/or left and why?
  • What are different positive or negative aspects of community?
  • Let’s start to form a sense of some of the key features or dimensions that come into play for “community”

Session 2:  Expand our exploration to “welcoming communities”

  • What has made you feel welcomed or included (or not) in a community?
  • What could it mean to be a “welcoming community”?
  • What are some of the features or aspects of a welcoming community?
  • What values or goals might shape our thinking about welcoming communities?

Stage Two: Deepening and Consolidating our Explorations

Session 3:  Diving deeper on the concerns, questions, and challenges

  • What are some of the key challenges or questions we might face in creating and sustaining welcoming communities?
  • What root causes or underlying issues might be at play?
  • What values, goals, or goods are related to these concerns or challenges?

Session 4:  Developing Core Questions and Concerns

  • What are the core or foundational concerns or questions that need to be addressed for welcoming communities?
  • How we might prioritize them?
  • Let’s start thinking about how we, as a public, might address or respond to some of these concerns and questions.

Stage Three: Generating Possibilities for Welcoming Communities

Session 5:  Imagining Welcoming Communities—A History of the Future

  • Imagine you’re in a future with your ideal of a welcoming community: what is it like?
  • What policies do they have in place to make it work?
  • How did they get there?
  • What did they build on in our own time to get there?

Session 6:  Sorting, Choosing & Wrapping Up

  • Let’s continue to flesh out the different possibilities we’ve created so far.
  • What are we missing? Any new ideas?
  • How well might they address the concerns and questions we’ve explored?
  • What could be added to make them work better?
  • How might we summarize them for others?
  • Wrapping up: where have we arrived and where might we head next?


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