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Getting Schooled in Fair Trade @ “Fairly Educated”

In July this year, Themis Scanlon (Convener of the University of Adelaide Fair Trade Collective) and a fellow student (Boshen Li) attended the Fairly Educated Conference at the University of Tasmania. In her third year at the conference, Themis found the content enriching and thought provoking. For the first time, Themis also played a lead role as a panelist, speaking to delegates about the University’s experience with fair trade and providing advice to many students that were new to the movement.

The conference brought together more than 50 students and a number of staff from 9 Australian Universities with an aim to:

  • Facilitate skill and resource sharing amongst Fair Trade campus movements;
  • Foster connections between Fair Trade universities;
  • Allow for social interaction and cooperation between like-minded people on a personal and professional level; and
  • Discuss the broader issues of poverty and the global fair trade movement

The conference program was build upon the pillars of Learn, Act and Succeed.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is a social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote local sustainbility of industry. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

Themis Scanlon at the 2013 Fairly Educated Conference

Themis Scanlon at the 2013 Fairly Educated Conference

About Fairly Educated

Fairly Educated is a not for profit initiative that aims to unite university Fair Trade movements across the globe and allow for the sharing of resources and experiences in order to further the Fair Trade movement. Fairly Educated reinforces the existing work of NGO activist groups, such as Vision Generation, Oaktree and Oxfam.

5 Key Points that Themis came away from the Conference with:

  1. People respond to stories and real-life experiences:- they want to know about the producers behind the products and how individuals are personally impacted through the Fair Trade movement. For example, in PNG, the Fairtrade Premium has helped build two schools, which has provided an incentive for the government to become active in providing development assistance and has resulted in the construction of schools in neighbouring areas.
  2. It is important to refer to the 10 World Fair Trade Principles when conveying the Fair Trade message:- it is not enough to talk about the Fair Trade Standards (such as the Minimum Price and the Premium).
  3. When talking to people about Fair Trade, it is important to convey why YOU support it.
  4. The primary challenges to Fair Trade product adoption remain the perceived additional expense of Fair Trade products, and the lack of Fair Trade “champions” pushing the movement
  5. The Fair Trade movement needs constant traction and engagement for it to become embedded within an institution.

If you are a student and want to get involved in Fair Trade on campus, contact Themis Scanlon (Convenor) at fairtradecollective@auclubs.com.au or find the Fair Trade Collective on facebook.

If you are a staff member, consider encouraging your school or area to make the switch to Fair Trade products. Contact ecoversity@adelaide.edu.au or the Fair Trade Collective for assistance, tips and resources.

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