As an independent, not-for-profit college, Columbia College is founded on a belief that all members of the College contribute to its success. Since 1936, the College has helped students find their voices with confidence by supporting them as they explore the ideas and tools that will help shape their future. As a leading international college, our student body is comprised of many backgrounds and beginnings. It is a vibrant, colourful, and diverse environment that emphasizes the importance of an inclusive community.
With this deep historical background, and amidst the diverse voices that contribute to the College’s future, a critical part of the recently completed Strategic Plan was to take the time to reflect and reveal the key values that can guide the college community forward.
Organizational values can be thought of as principles or concepts that guide behaviour and decision making amongst teams, groups, or organizations. However, with many perspectives to consider, the process to reveal deeply held values presented a significant challenge.
Upon consideration, leaders at the College opted to use graphic illustration as a means to explore and discuss shared values across the College community.
The College hired graphic recorder and illustrator Miranda Maslany to attend and capture insights from meetings held between College faculty and staff to explore and discuss core college values. Rather than starting with commonplace or boilerplate values, the group began by discussing common real life situations that occur throughout the college. The graphic recorder was able to capture the insights of participants regarding situational responses that align with the College’s history of delivering education to diverse newcomer students.
This resulted in an intial outline of behaviours that inform College programming as follows:
This draft was brought to other stakeholder groups at the College, including students, for further feedback, discussion, and reflection. Again, the graphic illustrator was present to capture key insights. The feedback and responses were then overlayed onto the original graphic as follows.
This rich outline of practices, behaviours, principles and draft values was invaluable to engage a range of members of the community in understanding and discussing what was most important, and unique, to the educational approach and day to day operations of the College.
After further discussion and reflection, the sub-group of College members tasked with defining proposed College core values developed the following 5 values and statements to inform the work and decision making of the community going forward.
As a graphic, and with specific descriptions that bring each concept to life, the values are now a foundational element in guiding college policy and decision making now and into the future.