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JLI is committed to working with our membership to support the continued struggle to change narratives and pursue anti-racism. We are building off our commitments to action for racial justice and solidarity. JLI is renewing a process to confront asymmetries of power in its research, joint learning and partnerships. We aim to increase participation and shift more power (resources and decision making) towards local movements and local faith communities.
As a result, JLI will develop new models of joint learning through regional and national hubs that are: inclusive of national and local languages, reaching out beyond traditional humanitarian and development organizations, and integrate fair and equitable approaches across research and practice. This process will be advised and guided by working groups as described below. Members and partners from the global south are particularly encouraged to apply whether or not you have been actively involved in the JLI previously.
Racist and colonial mindsets continue to permeate aid agencies and systems globally. One symptom is underestimating the capacities, social capital, leadership, expertise, networks and service provision of local faith communities and organizations. International faith-based organizations (FBOs) and secular partnerships can perpetuate these same asymmetries of power.
JLI aims to address issues such as a lack of acknowledgment of colonial legacies, the dominance of Western theological constructs, the marginalization of indigenous knowledge and belief, complicity in broader racist structures in aid and development, and inequity between local and international actors.
Confronting asymmetries of power is uncomfortable and requires Northern organizations to be willing to give up privilege and share power. JLI will strive to build a more racially diverse and geographically inclusive network of faith-based members to foster more equitable and inclusive joint learning platforms.
Agenda for change
JLI will focus on three priorities over the next 24 months, as part of an ongoing commitment to re-envision its partnerships and joint learning platforms.
- Regional listening dialogues: led by local and national faith actors to critically reflect on diversity, equity and inclusion in JLI’s joint learning models, by confronting asymmetries of power and identifying ways to change. The dialogues will inform and guide JLI and its members to reshape joint learning models that prioritize the research agendas of global south partners.
- Global webinar series: interactive public learning events, bringing together academics and practitioners from across different regions and perspectives to discuss critical questions to make joint learning more fair and equitable in religions and development research.
- Theological dialogue: bringing together theologians, scholars, academics and development practitioners from diverse contexts to share different theologies, teachings, spiritual insights and lived experiences of relevance to decolonization.
Each of the three priorities will have a working group to discuss, guide and support the respective activities. These groups will be held in a common working language with translation available. [See the call for expressions interest for Fair and Equitable Working Group TORs, open until March 31. Each group will meet for two years, once every two months, to lead these three distinct but interconnected processes.]
- Regional listening dialogues’ working group will support the design and facilitation of the sessions to enhance their potential.
- The global webinar series working group will focus on communications and outreach.
- The theological dialogues will constitute a working group in themselves, providing space for debate and exchange.