Together, these leaders catalyze meaningful change around the world.
Over four days in July 2019, 130 Fellows from all seven global Atlantic programs participated in the inaugural annual Convening of Atlantic Fellows in Oxford. The event focused on catalytic conversations in leadership and equity with the overarching goal of Fellows making meaningful connections across their diverse cultures, languages and disciplines.
It is a level of diversity that resides on the cusp between complexity and chaos. This cusp is the space where, by shifting diversity to inclusion and belonging, the impossible is made possible – that is where the magic happens in forging a committed community of changemakers.
"One of the most profound things that I heard this week so far has been ‘define or be defined.’ I think what we have at Atlantic is an opportunity to redefine ourselves, our community, what it is we stand for and what it is we hope to accomplish collectively."
Toyese Oyeyemi, Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity US + Global
This was the first time that the Fellows, each of whom had graduated one of the seven programs, had come together to connect, learn from and with each other to ultimately begin the process of working collaboratively for greater impact in the world. This heralded the initial steps in building the community that will, through collaboration and over time, create fairer, healthier and more equitable societies.
The connection within this diverse community did not happen because they simply met as a group in Oxford; it happened over those four days through the intentional establishment of respectful relationships, one at a time.
"I think the biggest thing is the value of relationships. There would never be an opportunity to meet with changemakers of this calibre from all over the world. You just couldn’t create this. We are having this feast of ideas and connections and relationships that have fueled my spirit and I think will continue to do that for a long time to come."
Michael Smith, Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity
Click on the interactive map to see how our Fellows collaborate
The keynote speakers were suggested by attending Fellows and were intentionally reflective of the community’s diversity and for the community to be challenged by leading thinkers:
Afterwards, these thought-provoking speakers also took part in conversations with a panel of Fellows to expand their thinking and offer new paradigms through dialogue. Numerous workshops were woven throughout the four days:
The strength of the connections made and friendships forged over the four days resulted in the birth of several Affinity Groups, in which like-minded Fellows from all continents joined forces to address a burning issue. They were naturally drawn to work together by a common desire and conviction to bring equity to their chosen challenge, be it Criminal Justice, Displacement of Migrants and Refugee Populations, or Sleep and Cognition.
At an award ceremony at the end of the convening, a number of projects were recognized for being emblematic of the vision and values of the Atlantic community. The Fellows whose projects demonstrated the most potential for expansion or impact were given substantial financial support. For example, there are plans for the East Mediterranean Brain Health Initiative to expand over time to forge links with medical teams in Armenia, Jordan, Turkey, and Pakistan.
The Global Convening of Fellows marked a significant milestone in the building and growth of the Atlantic Fellows community, providing a catalyst towards realising the goal of fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies. And the affinity groups continued to expand both at a local and global level.
The inaugural Global Fellows Convening provided the foundation for the growth and evolution of the global Atlantic community. Against the backdrop of shared values and a commitment to equity, connections were forged, leading to relationships which over time will realize the mission and vision of this community and shape the future.
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe and in-person convenings became impossible, the lessons learnt and rituals established in 2019 were repurposed for a successful virtual convening in 2020, and has laid the framework for further community building in the upcoming July 2021 convening.
COVID-19 has accelerated the need for urgent action on mental health care.