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5th November, 2020

An Adventure toward Equity in Higher Education and Research

Pauline Rutter

Is this a moment in history when there is just no appetite for an adventure? As the sun streams in through my living room window, it’s almost possible to forget that we are preparing for winter and yet another lock down, which may further buffet our already fragile existence in and outside of the academy. Perhaps what is yearned for, in the rare live experiences and the numerous online offers, are opportunities to feel nurtured, supported and connected to each other and ourselves?

 Becoming an associate of TCCE at this moment in time has provided the impetus for me to gather together the threads of ideas that I have been weaving over the years. What enables me to engage in inspiring research? How can I navigate the personal, community and professional spaces that I occupy, while being my authentic self?  Is it possible to combine theory and practice with an understanding of social justice and equity and also experience joy? 

With such questions in mind, I am proposing an adventure through which we hear from and engage with marginalised voices and perspectives as we reimagine the future of the UK’s “world-class, dynamic and responsive research base.” [1]  There are markers on this journey already laid down by the Higher Education Race Action Group [2], the Centre for Research in Race & Education [3], the Race Equality Charter [4], and the REF Equality and Diversity Panel [5]. Our research funding bodies are beginning to take note of the momentum that continues to build for this work [6]. There are also energising lay lines being traversed by those examining ‘The career experiences and strategies of UK Black female professors’ [7] and others revealing how exclusion and marginalisation continue to disadvantage BME students and academics in higher education as they do in other ways for many people within society [8]. This work is not new but engagement with it and the constructive experiences and growth it inspires evolve with each generation. 

There is no shortage of academic excellence to help us on our way. In looking at the work of many professors, HEI groups and organisations such as Black British Academics [9] and the Stuart Hall Foundation [10], it is obvious that scholars are coming together across disciplines. They are reimagining a more equitable future with critical thinking embracing language and voices that create disruption but that also reveal other experiences of falling in love with research.  

The challenges of a world transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic could make us feel too locked down to open up further to the creativity developed through social justice, or it could allow us all to pause, to breath and to more deeply interrogate what we are doing and where we are heading. 

I warmly invite you to join this adventure, which builds upon the work and long term commitment of TCCE to creating vibrant, inclusive spaces, actively seeking to platform a range of approaches, experience and ideas, and to addressing difficult questions in creative ways. It may also allow us to access and care for our emotional energy, to take stock of our practical know how and to connect with the new paths being laid towards the values embedded transformation of structures within our institutions.  


  8. Professor Kalwant Bhopal “White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society” (2018)

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