Space, place, & face: Reflections on diversity in HE (ILT Project Blog)
Whilst we are waiting to hear back about the ethics considerations for our project, I've been reflecting on the previous ILT project we did, what we found from that, and how the reflections are carrying forward.
Even though the project hasn't started yet in terms of data collection, diversity issues are of course ever present and on going within the University (and HE more generally).
Our main findings from last years project - focusing on student perspectives on diversity in the curriculum - centred on (re)learning what they thought they knew about their course, realising there were a lot of issues missed, glossed over, or excluded altogether. Psychology has been littered with issues related to exclusion, with recent acknowledgement given to Kitty Genovese's partner (who was missing from textbooks and pretty much all literature about the case), and even the complete exclusion of important research by black psychologists such as Clarke & Clarke. For students to now recognise this, felt like a 'lightbulb' moment, with an understanding that more work needed to be done.
The other main point that stood out for us was that students reflected on how they took what they learned outside of the classroom - they commented on who was reporting the news, who was writing news stories, who the characters were in the shows they watched. Diversity issues expanded outside of academia, and they started to question it more widely. And this is what we're looking for! Learning occurs outside of the institution too.
So in reflection of these points, the comments that lecturers have made so far, in conversation, on social media, in development meetings, interestingly (or perhaps not) does not reflect the sentiments of the students. They talk more about the space they need to think through these issues, and being able to do so in the right space (training, development, specialist workshops). They also might reflect on their own position - the face of these issues in their disciplines - but acknowledging gender / race / sexuality etc does not equate to addressing the issue.
It will be great to see what examples of best practice are being shared in our institution, and how these might relate to concerns that our students have raised.