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20th May, 2021

Following the Money to Equity and Social Justice in Higher Education

The Culture Capital Exchange

Event Details

20th May, 2021
14:00 - 16:00

This fourth TCCE equity and social justice session concludes our current season with an outward looking, international consideration of the role of funding in challenging inequalities within Higher Education. What resources could be made available to ensure that female academics and researchers of colour and other marginalised groups re enabled to fully contribute their expertise to the excellence of their departments and organisations?

Supportive, creative and practical staff and student led initiatives have appeared in so many institutions and yet still “only 155 out of more than 23,000 university professors in the UK are black (1) .” UKRI data also indicates that “the share of Principal Investigators from Black and Bangladeshi ethnicity remain below their labour market and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) staff share (2) .

However, even beyond concerns about these figures, for some researchers and equality practitioners collective and structural questions remain unaddressed. These resonate with deep concerns about the institutional power dynamics, marginalisation and stereotyping that overtly or covertly constrain ethnic minority PhDs and scholars from confidently developing their work, achieving career progression or even establishing a nurturing and secure home for their activities.

The documentation available from research organisations and universities, chart the ongoing reconfiguration of procedures designed to usher in enhanced diversity and inclusion (D&I), equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and even inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) at this time of immense uncertainty in Higher Education and society as a whole.

Are alternative approaches available that can enable our institutions to embrace and resource the imagination and ingenuity required to fully grapple with the macro-level equity and social justice issues that even students have raised their voices to? (3)

This session provides an opportunity to consider national and international perspectives to invigorating and resourcing higher education transformation and to reflect on the inclusion of nonmaterial elements such as opportunity, trust, collegiality and joy into the fabric of the equitable and welcoming academic environments desired.


Michele Tracy Berger is Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (USA). Her research, teaching, and practice all focus on intersectional approaches to studying areas of inequality, especially racial and gender health disparities. This work spans the fields of public health, sociology and women’s and gender studies.

Dr Kecia Thomas is Dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences (USA). Kecia joined UAB from the University of Georgia, where she was senior associate dean in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. In that role, Thomas was the division dean for the social and behavioural sciences and also managed the college’s faculty affairs functions and its diversity and its inclusion strategy.

Dr Erinma Ochu (she/they) is Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Communications in the Information School at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) where she researches and teaches intersectional and cross platform storytelling to create new narratives for living and thriving in a warming world. A neuroscientist and storyteller by background, with a PhD in Applied Neuroscience and ten years as story executive and curator within independent film and arts in the UK, Erinma is currently a visiting fellow at The Ada Lovelace Institute, researching through creative practice to inform policy around Racial Justice and Artificial Intelligence. Erinma is an advisory board of MMU’s Centre for Researching Race and Racism and interim director of Engaging Environments, a National Environment Research Council initiative to create an equity agenda for research between environmental scientists and communities most affected by the climate crisis.

Ro Averin (she/they) is an equity and social justice educator and consultant, who utilizes mindfulness and intersectionality as methodologies for creating sustainable social change.

Pauline Rutter (facilitator) is currently working at TCCE on equity and social justice perspectives to equality, diversity and inclusion within higher education settings. She brings to this work a background in creative research methodologies and design and experience in mediation and conflict resolution. Pauline holds degrees in fine art and in education, a masters degree in International business management and a diploma in environmental management. Her experience over the last twenty years includes research, consultancy and training in sustainability, community development, business ethics and the knowledge innovation. She specialises in designing, collaborative, inclusive and interdisciplinary programmes and approaches that facilitate dialogue, exchange and organisational culture transformation. In her spare time, she writes creative and speculative fiction and nonfiction, walks and gardens and supports local community groups focused on new narratives for a sustainable, equitable and inclusive society.

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