Engage 2021: Shining a spotlight on diversity and inclusion

Guest posts

Category: Anglia Learning & Teaching

10 May 2021

ARU’s annual Engage learning and teaching conference provides an opportunity for our community to come together and share ideas. This year’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion has the potential to inspire new ambitions and reinvigorate current good practice.

The last year has been dominated by the Covid pandemic, as ARU students and staff have battled with the demands of learning away from campus. The pandemic highlighted inequalities that had direct effects on the abilities of some students to learn and to complete assessment tasks.

At the same time, the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 and the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement raised the particular issues of racial inequality and systemic racism, a topic that has been reignited recently by the Sewell Report.

ARU’s annual Engage learning and teaching conference is an open invitation for contributions on all aspects of our practice. However, there is often a theme running through proceedings and this is reflected in the keynote.

This year, Dr Jason Arday from Durham University will be highlighting aspects of race equality in Higher Education. Jason has been acting as a consultant for ARU as we work towards our submission for the Race Equality Charter and develop our Race Equality Strategy.

To reinforce this theme, we are inviting presenters and delegates to consider a set of ‘golden threads’ during the conference. These pick up themes that are already embedded in our Education Strategy and our Inclusive Curriculum Framework. The Active Curriculum Framework that underpins the strategy makes a specific commitment to implement a “universal design for learning approach … which aims to minimise barriers and maximise opportunities for all learners”.

The Engage 2021 threads focus on aspects of the student experience where inequalities can be addressed. Although they respond to racial equality issues, they go beyond these to consider wider aspects of inclusion and diversity:

Fostering a sense of belonging

How far does our community and our academic culture mirror wider society?

How can we ensure that all students feel that they ‘fit’ within our university?

Exploring intersectionality and celebrating diversity

How can we use the intersections between different characteristics, such as ethnicity and gender, to broaden the student experience?

How can students use their unique identities, diverse lived experience and those of others as part of their learning?

Ensuring clarity and fairness in assessment

How can we be sure that assessment provides equality of opportunity for all students?

Do some methods of assessment implicitly favour some students over others?

Promoting equality of access and social capital

Do we provide equality of opportunity for all students applying to our university?

Are we providing adequate support for all students, irrespective of their socio-economic background, cultural experience and current circumstances?

Championing equal opportunity and employment

Does every student have the chance to demonstrate their full potential?

Is employability integrated with the curriculum in a way that allows all students the opportunity to succeed irrespective of their background?

Showcasing interdisciplinarity and diverse representation

Does the curriculum provide opportunities for students to address real-world problems by working across subject boundaries?

How is diversity used to enhance the curriculum?

By Dr Julian Priddle and Dr Linda Brown (Anglia Learning and Teaching), and Katie Potts (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, SLS)


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.