A framework for informed action in times of crisis

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This framework structures the process into the following stages:

  • Investigation and preparation to evaluate the situation, understand complex problems and determine the most appropriate courses of action to respond to crises.
  • Responsible and responsive action, that is informed, compassionate and mindful of the context in which it is situated.
  • Ongoing reflection on one’s actions and understandings in the context of crisis locally and globally.

Guiding questions for students 


Identify an area of interest and an authentic need. 

Action is informed and guided by compassion and by understanding. To appropriately and responsibly engage with individuals and communities in crisis, it is necessary to take a step back to understand the situation, and to determine an authentic need related to the crisis.  

Conversations to identify and verify needs should happen with the community or individuals concerned. This lays the foundations of mutually respectful relationships and ensures actions are responsive and reciprocal.  

Guiding questions to support planning, engagement and ongoing reflection:    

  • What's happening?  What are the issues? 
  • What does the world/community need?  How do I/we know if this is an authentic need?  
  • Which individuals and communities are involved and in what ways? Who is most impacted by this situation? 
  • What skills do I/we have to contribute? 


In times of crisis, the selection and evaluation of sources is particularly important. (See resources on discernment of information, source analysis and critical thinking). 


Deepen understanding and design an action plan.

To design and take responsible and appropriate action that helps those in crisis, it is necessary to understand complex situations, and to be mindful of the context in which the action is situated.  

Being compassionate includes understanding the complex and systemic nature of any crisis. Meaningful action requires understanding the complexities of issues that underlie an identified need.  

Students collaborate with community partners to deepen understanding, determine appropriate action, and design an action plan to address the identified need. They understand that ethical action is grounded in dialogue and reciprocal partnership, in respect and a sense of responsibility toward each other and the planet.  

In times of crisis, a clear assessment of potential risks to participating students and other members of the school community is particularly important.  

Guiding questions to support planning, engagement and ongoing reflection:    

Seeking deeper understanding 

  • What new knowledge might I/we need?   
  • Why do the needs identified exist? What are the underlying issues? What local issues and global issues does this link to? 
  • What are the multiple and diverse perspectives involved? What is my/our own perspective, and what are my/our assumptions? What does this mean for how we understand the situation and possibilities to act in partnership?  
  • Whose perspectives might be important to consider that I/we might not have heard? 

Planning, anticipating, evaluating 

  • What ethical concerns exist here? 
  • How do I/we contribute to viewing the people in need not as lacking [money, education etc.] and needing our help, but considering and valuing what resources they do have? 
  • What action would be appropriate? How can I/we know this? 
  • Does the proposed action help foster individual and collective agency? 
  • How can I/we act as a partner/partners? 
  • What might be the short- and long-term impacts and consequences of my/our actions?  How can I/we ensure that the action will benefit all involved?  
  • What resources do I/we need? 
  • Are any risks involved in taking this action?  
  • Does the proposed action have long term potential to foster sustainable engagement


Respond to an authentic need in an informed way. 

Context matters. What any person or community can and should do in any crisis depends on the context in which they are living. 

Students may undertake action individually, with partners or in groups. Wherever possible, action should involve working alongside community members with ongoing communication. Students can also extend local action to global action through partnerships with students in other villages, towns, cities, countries, or continents. Technology affords opportunities for networking, sharing of initiatives, partnerships and impact. 

Ethical and responsible action is informed, responds to an authentic need, and is grounded in collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community.

Guiding questions to support planning, engagement and ongoing reflection:  

“In action” 

  • Does this engagement feel authentic?  
  • Are my/our actions thought out and considerate?   
  • How is the experience challenging my/our assumptions? What new insights am I/are we gaining? 
  • What impacts and unanticipated consequences am I/are we noticing? 
  • Am I working collaborating with others sensitively and effectively?  
  • How am I/are we experiencing interactions with community partners? 
  • What challenges am I/are we facing? How can I/we address them?  


  • What have I/we learned about and from the people we worked with?  
  • In what ways has this experience benefited all involved?  
  • What can others learn from my/our experiences? 
  • How can my/our experiences apply to other situations? 
  • What might the next steps be? Who might be involved?  

Ongoing reflection

Reflection is ongoing and supports self-discovery and understanding the larger context of community and society.  

Students examine their thoughts, feelings and actions applied to the context of self, community and the world throughout the process, and identify significant moments generated by new situations and insights. 

Schools encourage and support reflective practice and different forms of expression. Safe spaces are created for students to share their experiences and learning. Sharing and evoking responses from others helps students reflect and deepen their understanding.