As we learn as a society to go on living with COVID and make our tentative return to campus, our thoughts go out to all of our students, both continuing and commencing, who for the past two years have had the critical social dimensions of their student life radically disrupted. Teaching and studying in the new normal has become more complex, relationships fragmented, and our social lives something we all need to begin to build again together.  

In 2021, we have been thinking about this in terms of our students’ sense of belonging, and considering what role we might play as educators and professionals to provide a form of intentionally equitable hospitality. This would include paying attention to the things we do that help our students feel welcome, included and valued, that help them feel ‘at home’ in their university study, experience a sense of connection to their peers, and contribute to their sense of wellbeing and community. 

Creating a sense of belonging for students

Based on a wide ranging literature review, desktop audit, and focus groups with students, we have created this infographic for Building Belonging, which we will continue to develop in partnership with the University community. This infographic points to key principles we wish to promote as a University for building belonging:  

  • Communicating care and concern 
  • Fostering meaningful encounters 
  • Practising radical inclusion  
  • Inspiring agency 

And while it points to a selection of practices you might like to trial within your subjects and learning environments, we know that you are most likely doing a large number of things that are not represented here. As this is a work in progress, we are keen to learn more about the practices you use to make your students feel welcome and connected, and we are looking for examples to include as case studies to flesh out this resource for the community. We welcome your feedback and ideas. Please contact Alisa Percy  

The Building Belonging infographic

Below is an image of the infographic. To access an accessible PDF, and to use the embedded links, please download a copy of the Building Belonging infographic [.pdf, 172 KB].

the Building Belonging infographic - please see PDF download for text version.

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