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Advancing and Advocating for Social Justice & Equity


Borders, Boundaries, Barriers, and Bridges

Developed by Vera Stenhouse, Independent Researcher/Facilitator

Participants engage with an alliterative framework to support their development of sociopolitical consciousness across various contexts. Using the bordersboundariesbarriers, and bridges (4B) framework, participants capture images that reflect their experience with and understanding of these concepts towards deepening their understanding of how they relate to sociopolitical contexts in education.

 Learner Learning Outcomes:

ALL – Introductory, Intermediate, Advanced, or Expert.
Assessment or deliverablesMaterials
 Process: The process moves recursively across four phases: 
Phase I

Show narrated PPT (10 minutes)/Introduce the 4B framework
Review definitions handout of Borders, Boundaries, Barriers, and Bridges (4Bs) (2mins):
Border: An imposed political or physical demarcation, designed intentionally (or not) to separate, exclude, enclose, insulate, isolate, and/or displace.
Boundary: A boundary is similar to a border but may be nature-made or may be human-made. Boundaries can be affective and internalized.
Barrier: A barrier is an animate or inanimate obstacle. Barriers are positioned (politically, socially, culturally, economically, structurally) to be surmounted towards achieving some anticipated goal and/or outcome.
Bridge: Bridges traverse borders, boundaries, and barriers. Bridges facilitate or grant access to a place, person, situation, or opportunity.
Group participants in teams of 2-5 (1min)
Group Task (15mins to 90mins):
Expectation: In a given amount of set time, from15 to 90 mins, groups work together (with little input from the facilitator) staying in one place or moving about their immediate environment/ community thinking, identifying, observing, and discussing what they perceive as a borderboundarybarrier, or bridge, then capture their understanding with pictures/photographs with captions or descriptive narrative.
First, each member of the group should consider the 4B framework and name examples from their own personal, educational, or work/professional experience. In the process they may argue for or against how author of 4B framework has defined the framework.
Second, after some time being in group discussion, participants are given the option to examine their environment and take pictures (or capture in writing what they notice) of what they feel is representative of what they define as a border, boundary, barrier, or bridge.
Phases II - IV

Whole group share and debrief (allow for 5-10 minutes per group to report back).
This portion of the activity should be predominantly participants talking and sharing about their images, process, group dynamic, and anything learned. Focus on what and why prompts. Encourage participants to explain and make connections. Ask questions and allot time for responses.
Conceptual analysis: Prompt questions include, why did your group take this picture? What are the circumstances that led to an outcome captured in a picture? Were there any disagreements, “new” or affirmed understanding in the group discussion of the terms? If and how did the provided 4B framework shape your thinking? What are people noticing across groups and what is being shared?
Conceptual analysis application: What do you know that helps understand the broader context of this picture? (Here is where you’d seek to notice any concepts, theories, or practices being taught/learned; any shifts in understanding the relevance of power and the non-neutrality of what a border, boundary, barrier, or bridge might mean OR understanding the various sociopolitical contexts that shape the 4Bs).
During the process of analysis and application, listen for and notice, if and how participants connect their thinking and understanding to aspects of power, sociopolitical contexts and consciousness; and demonstrate shifting from a neutral stance to heightened or deeper or expanded critical consciousness by asking more questions and challenging presumptions - their own and others.
Wrap Up: (15 minutes)
Action: All respond to and document - With what you have learned, will you do next?
In sharing these next steps and intentions, allow individuals to speak to their perspectives on how a border, boundary, barrier, or bridge might be interpreted within particular contexts towards a deeper understanding of equity as they relate to power and their sociopolitical awareness. Given what you hear as a facilitator, will support what next steps you and/or the group needs to take to continue to grow in this work.