Inclusion, Equity and Social Justice – Workshop summary

The second FLIE workshop versed on the topic of Inclusion, Equity and Social Justice.

We had the pleasure of having Chiko Bwalya, SUBU VP Education, joining us and offering some eye-opening insights on inclusion, diversity and decolonisation from a student perspective.

Race and student perspective

Chiko shared her experience as a student at BU and her concerns around whiteness and Eurocentrism in the curricula.

SUBU is currently working on antiracism strategies as well as in incorporating current topics into the curriculum from a perspective that makes sense to the learning experience, such as Black History Month which has been adopted from American history but not adapted into the British one.

Chiko also referred to the Keele University’s Decolonizing the Curriculum Manifesto, one that defines decolonization of the curriculum as

“creating spaces and resources for a dialogue among all members of the University on how to imagine and envision, all cultures and knowledge systems in the curriculum, with respect to what is being taught and how it frames the world.”

Gender imbalance

As for gender imbalance, Chiko also had some words of wisdom to share with the audience. “It is something that we’re all very privy to”. Chiko reminded us that the imbalance feeds into the structures of education versus the workforce. Roughly 80% of psychology students are women but the actual professional workspace doesn’t reflect those numbers. “We’re teaching students that this may be an area where a certain agenda dominates this field but that’s actually not the reality”.

“We also need to manage expectations but also encourage students that this may be a glass ceiling they need to break through. But we also have the tools to provide students with that understanding and breaking through that space, and we need to make sure that they have access to it throughout their entire academic career.” (Chiko Bwalya)

The Equity Compass

The ‘Equity Compass: a tool for supporting socially just practice’ is part of a set of resources for reflecting, planning and tracking action that arcs towards equity and social justice. The Equity Compass can be applied to events, programmes, spaces, policy and generally the design of change big and small. 

The development of the tool and other resources has been funded by international research grants for a five-year Youth Equity + STEM project (YESTEM). YESTEM brought together researchers, practitioners and youth to co-develop new understanding and tools. The end-of-project public event captures the scale of research and the impact. 

The tools and resources have been taken up by sectors and communities beyond Informal Science. Have a look at the Equity Compass – Teacher Edition and Equity Compass – School Leaders and Governors Edition.  

What I find interesting is that the Equity Compass is not prescriptive. It empowers users to individually/collectively map where they are at (current practices). It forces dialogue about evidence and planning change in the right direction.   

Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare the map on the compass produced by academic and professional staff to one that is produced by our students? Wouldn’t it be interesting to co-construct outputs and actions for moving towards more equitable and socially just practices?  

I joined BU on the 1st of September having been immersed in the YESTEM project. There are Fusion possibilities that will emerge in the fullness to time. 

Looking forward to more discussions around these and other topics with BU staff and students.

Other equity compass resources:

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