Fostering belonging through event design

Submission deadline date: 1 July 2024


By facilitating interaction between otherwise distinct and potentially distanced groups of people (Walters & Jepson, 2019), events can contribute to both community cohesion; and individual well-being. However, as an artefact of society, events through their design can reinforce social norms, biases, and hierarchies (Ong et al., 2020). How the event space and experience are designed can influence who is permitted to participate and how they are permitted to participate (Robertson et al., 2018). 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices have increasingly been adopted to inform event design in practice. Such initiatives are often implemented in response to legislative requirements, such as local event planning requirements, or in recognition of the diversity in society and societal pressures to accommodate such diversity. Research within the workplace context (Carr et al., 2019; Filstad et al., 2019), however, demonstrates that DEI practices by themselves can be ineffective in fostering engagement with those from marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable groups. 

Davis (2021) positions DEI initiatives as a form of performance that creates an illusion of inclusion, potentially contributing “more harm and trauma for the very group they are aimed to protect”. Such practices by themselves do little to mitigate the impact of prejudice or discrimination and are often designed premised upon the dominant culture. While DEI practices inform initiatives implemented within an environment, it fails to consider how the individuals themselves feel because of those initiatives. It is here that a focus on ‘belonging’ can play a role in informing initiatives that seek to foster meaningful inclusion and meaningful representation. Belonging captures how the individual feels within an environment (Allen et al., 2021) and provides a stringent perspective of the efficacy of DEI initiatives in meaningfully considering and engaging with the needs of diverse audiences. Within the context of events, such a focus could help support participation from marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable people and enable them to feel safe while participating in the event experience in a way that reflects their authentic selves. Accordingly, designing event spaces where marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable people feel they belong could help encourage participation. 

This special issue will contribute to theory and practice on designing events that can foster belonging or meaningful inclusion for people from marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable groups. In doing so, the special issue will advance the debate from DEI practices, towards exploring how the needs of those marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable can be meaningfully considered in event design and organisation.

This special issue will contribute towards addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2020) focusing on social sustainability. Specifically, Goal 5 on Gender Equality; Goal 10 on Reduced Inequalities; Goal 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities; and Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Papers on the following, or related, marginalised and/or potentially vulnerable groups are encouraged.

  • People with disabilities (invisible and visible) and their carers, 
  • LGBTTQIA+ people and marginalised groups within the LGBTTQIA+ communities,
  • First Nations and Indigenous people, 
  • Refugees and immigrants, 
  • Low and no-income families and other economically vulnerable groups,
  • People from ethnic minority and diaspora communities, and,
  • Other communities that may be marginalised within their socio-geographic context.
Allen, K.-A., Kern, M. L., Rozek, C. S., McInerney, D. M., & Slavich, G. M. (2021). Belonging: A review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research. Australian Journal of Psychology, 73(1), 87-102. 
Carr, E., Reece, A., Kellerman, G., & Robichaux, A. (2019). The Value of Belonging at Work. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 14/05/2023 from
Davis, A. M. (2021). Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have failed. How about Belonging, Dignity and Justice instead? World Economic Forum. Retrieved 14/05/2023 from…
Filstad, C., Traavik, L. E., & Gorli, M. (2019). Belonging at work: the experiences, representations and meanings of belonging. Journal of workplace learning. 
Ong, F., Lewis, C., & Vorobjovas-Pinta, O. (2020). Questioning the inclusivity of events: The queer perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 
Robertson, M., Ong, F., Lockstone-Binney, L., & Ali-Knight, J. (2018). Critical event studies–issues and perspectives. Event Management, 22(6).
United Nations. (2020). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved 3/03/2020 from…
Walters, T., & Jepson, A. S. (2019). Marginalisation and events. Routledge.  

List of topic areas

  • Event design for marginalised, and/or potentially vulnerable people
  • Event design and planning for intersectional disadvantage
  • Universal design approaches to event development
  • Tokenism vs meaningful inclusion in event design
  • Event design and well-being
  • Event design and community cohesion
  • Decolonising event design

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.

Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to "Please select the issue you are submitting to". 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Click here to submit!

Key deadlines

Closing date for abstract submission: 19th February, 2024  

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 1st March, 2024

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 1st July, 2024    
Email for submissions: [email protected]