Challenging Practices – Imagining Spaces of Empowerment and Participation

How can education contribute to greater equality, and how we can begin to imagine more democratic and empowering spaces in education?

Globalisation is giving rise to ever more complex social, ethnic and cultural diversity. Such diversity, along with the rapidity of change across different spheres, pose particular challenges for how we think about education, and what we understand its role and purposes to be as we move through the early decades of the twenty-first century. Growing inequalities, both globally and locally, invite new responses to the communities we wish to engage with, and intensify the need to address issues of social marginalisation and unequal power relations.

In different ways, the speakers in this panel at The European Conference on Education 2015 (ECE2015) were concerned with how education can contribute to greater equality, and how we can begin to imagine more democratic and empowering spaces in education. The panel was chaired by Linda Morrice, University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

Presentation #1: Challenging Pedagogic Practices - How Might We Enact Equality?

Kerry Harman, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

Academics often tend to look at others and provide commentary on how others might change rather than looking in their own backyard. Some might even argue that this is the essence of academic activity i.e. that academics provide expertise in their area of speciality in order to contribute to social progress and development. Drawing on Ranciere’s concepts of an equality of intelligence and the pedagogical myth I approach the conference topic from a slightly different angle and ask: what challenges and changes might be required in academic communities in higher education to enable empowerment and social change? What might a decoupling of the often taken for granted relationship between knowledge and emancipation open up in terms of the organisation of Higher education? And how might changing our academic practices contribute to equality and social change?

Presentation #2: Utilising Community University Partnership Spaces for Addressing Inequalities

David Wolff, University of Brighton, United Kingdom

Creating spaces where researchers, students, community practitioners and members can work together to consider and address issues of mutual concern can deliver much for all parties.What makes these partnerships work well and what kind of future spaces do we need to develop? David Wolff will reflect on 12 years of Community University Partnership Programme at the University of Brighton, including reference to a study they conducted '10 down, 10 to go!' which looks at the future of community university partnership working.

Presentation #3: Exploring Opportunities in Internationally Mobile Higher Education - Intersections of Gender and HE Experience for Roma Students

Tamsin Hinton-Smith, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Higher education participation has transformative potential for the empowerment of both individuals and communities, and international mobility is heralded as a key site for engagement with the opportunities of the contemporary HE landscape. Yet while the positive potential of such developments is emphasised (e.g. Council of the European Union 2009), they also create new spaces of marginalisation. Such inequalities and exclusions operate along lines of embodied experience including gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and intersections between these. Focusing on intersections of gender and social marginalisation, this paper explores how opportunities to engage with internationally mobile subject (Lynch 2009), are mediated by lived experience, and how these converge with assumptions around the ideal mobile student.The discussion is presented in the context of early findings from the first wave of fieldwork in a 3-year project exploring opportunities for internationally mobile HE participation by participants from socially marginalised groups, focusing on the experience of Roma students. The discussion addresses the role of relevant policies and practices, identifying areas of challenge to participation, and individual and collective strategies in responses to these, while seeking to problematise HE cultures that inhibit participation by diverse constituents, rather than the individuals or communities engaging with them.

Posted by IAFOR