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Abstracts for the Colloquium 30th June 2021

Paula's Colloquium Introduction


Costley, Nicolou-Walker and Nottingham

EDI Work-in-progress, please read this briefing paper

Dr Jenny K Rodriguez and Costley 

Keynote and Discussion

Please find Abstracts below:

Speaker 1

Dr Anastasia Christou



Middlesex University


Affordances of 'unhoming pedagogies': Reflecting on two decades of activating learning and teaching for social justice in UK Universities

Activating learning and teaching for social justice requires the adoption of pedagogies of discomfort and critical inquiry. Such processes demand emotional and logistical labour in transforming affordances of ‘unhoming pedagogies’ into transformative spaces of belonging in the classroom and the Academy while embracing socio-cultural accounts of differing intersectional identities of learners, emphasising ethical academic citizenship, a dialogic ethos to democratic debates in classrooms that can become the stage for social change and pathways to promote and accelerate new ideas through knowledge co-production and exchange. Learning through and towards social justice develops critical thinking, collaboration, respect, care, compassion and self-reflection skills necessary to foster better societies. Learning and teaching for social justice perceives students and lecturers as co-learners of themselves, others, institutions, practices, etc. and enables empowering for all to voice concerns and question unjust situations in their individual and collective lives and the lives of those on a regional, national and global scale. In this 5 minute presentation I aim to share key reflections on that two decade journey while pedagogically engaging with cultural politics, intersectional and feminist approaches, decolonial and post-colonial epistemologies, narrative analytics and the critical sociologies of public scholarship, and, while embracing a feminist ethics of care and a social justice for community development activist and anti-racist academic agenda. Such an agenda requires a difficult plunge into reflexivities that contextualise the public and pedagogic sphere as spaces of what I term ‘unhoming’ and can yield experiences of displacement through processes of rupture, exclusion, racialisation and by extension as a form of gendered violence which is psychosocially and emotionally saturated in the toxicity of how individuals and groups in pedagogic spaces are othered through everyday sexisms, ageisms and racisms. My critical intervention draws from a threefold theorisation of a discomforting of politics (cf. ‘politics of discomfort’: Chadwick 2021), through bridging liminal affectivity (cf. affective liminality: Waerniers and Hustinx 2020) while interrogating radical praxis of the ‘human condition’ (Arendt 1958). As a form of feminist affective radical praxis, engaging with discomforting politics in teaching and learning is integral to the development of inclusive, emancipatory and alternative feminist knowledges. Along the line as theorised by Chadwick (2021) in exploring ‘discomfort’ as ‘sweaty concept’, transformative as an epistemic and interpretive resource with intensity and resistance, I push for ‘discomforting’ feminist knowledge politics to engage with an Arendtian political participation in society as the exemplification of action in becoming ‘human’.


Speaker 2

Dr Glenis Wade



QA Ltd


Focus on the Poetry: Exploring BAME learner engagement with new work based learning reading

This work around equality, diversity and inclusion is an auto ethnography of own teaching and learning practices especially centred around critical incidents arising from self-generated efforts to improve BAME learner engagement and achievement. It particularly explores and maps out teaching and learning practices deployed longitudinally and analyses those critical incidents relating to andragogy and decolonisation of the HE curriculum for learners on a business and management related degree apprenticeship. It discusses BAME student engagement and achievement through the lens of critical race theory, critical management and some reading transaction concepts hailing from Rosenblatt (1994-2018). The work will also highlight new training and development themes for all academic staff to help with future offers for improving BAME learner engagement and attainment. The work potentially suggests new ways forward for HE staff recruitment and training development tactics as these too might help Higher Education institutions work towards meeting diversity and inclusion aims around BAME staff recruitment and progression. This work uniquely provides insight for improving BAME learner engagement from the perspective of a BAME Senior Lecturer and one who is more comfortable with a black British afro Caribbean identity than one of BAME. The work hopes to reveal some of the more deep-seated obstacles and previously unrevealed themes around BAME achievement and attainment barriers as well as highlighting potential opportunities in work-based learning situations for learners. The aim is to open dialogue around the institutional, cultural and pedagogy/ andragogy barriers that either limit or enable BAME student attainment. Interestingly it also links the analysis, conclusion and recommendations to BAME staff recruitment and progression practices, as these might also be linked. Ultimately it expands the lecturer’s toolbox for decolonising the curriculum.


Speakers 3

Mary Makinde and Dr Claire Thurgate



Canterbury Christ Church University


Closing Our Gap: How a School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work is Improving the Experience of BAME students


A joint report by the NUS and Universities UK, highlighted a significant disparity between the degree outcomes of White students and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. The reports highlights that White students more likely to receive a 1st or 2.1 degree than Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students. The largest gap is seen between Black students and White students. This disparity is also evident at CCCU and through the university’s strategic commitments to closing our gap, work is underway to improve the experiences of our BAME students, tackle racial inequalities and improve student outcomes.

Through consultations with staff and students the University developed a Closing Our Gap strategic framework. The framework is divided in to three strands outlining the university’s commitment to developing:

Curriculum: is diverse and inclusive which is representative and reflective of the staff and student body.

Culture: celebrates diversity in which our core values are reflected.

Community: a friendly, inclusive and professional community that fosters good relationships and a sense of belonging in which everyone is heard and respected.

BAME students account for approximately 32% of the students within the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Social Care and the disparity of degree outcomes between White students and BAME students is a concern.  The School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, working with our student body, has taken steps to gain a deeper understanding, improve the student experience and reduce the attainment gap including: 

Reviewing the Mental Health nursing curriculum with BAME students to ensure an inclusive curriculum;

Validating a Nursing and Social Justice module within our adult nursing programmes;

Implementing a student engagement lead role who is working with our BAME students to enhance their experience;

Implementing a Student Council so that the School understands student issues and facilitates an inclusive culture that hears and respects all.

Alongside university learning our students are either undertaking professionally regulated courses involving placements or they are workers and learners engaging in continuing development.  There is a need, therefore, to understand how the implementation of curriculum, culture and community within the workplace impacts on the student experience and their degree classification as many BAME students do not report racism for fear of not being believed (Hackett, 2021).  To gain this insight the Faculty is supporting two Health Education England projects, in collaboration with our BAME students.  These projects want to understand the impact of the BAME students’ practice experience.  It is hoped that findings will contribute to a toolkit which will facilitate a curriculum, culture and community within practice/the workplace which is inclusive and respects all.  


Hackett, K. (2021) Reporting racism: ‘students fear they won’t be believed’ Nursing Standard 36, 2, 19-21


Speaker 4

Prof Margaret Linehan



Munster Technological University


Let's Talk Menopause

Professor Margaret Linehan, Munster Technological University, Ireland


For every ten women experiencing menopausal symptoms, six say it has a negative impact on their work (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2021).  Many women will continue to suffer in silence unless we break the taboo and start talking openly about menopause at work.    Menopause is rarely a topic of open discussion in the workplace - even though nearly half of the world's population experiences, or will experience this biological transition, which marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility.


Menopause often intersects with a critical career stage, as it usually occurs between ages 45 and 55.  This is also the age bracket during which women are most likely to move into top leadership positions.  Since menopause generally lasts between seven and fourteen years, millions of postmenopausal women are coming into management and leadership roles while experiencing mild to severe symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and cognitive impairment.  These symptoms can have a significant impact on women’s health and wellbeing as well as their work and relationships.  The menopause can also have an impact on emotional wellbeing and lead to excessive levels of stress.


In the workplace, women have reported great difficulty in managing symptoms (Paul 2003; Reynolds 1999).  They may be unable to disclose their menopausal difficulties due to fear of stigmatisation (Hardy et al., 2019).  In Northern Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (2018) found that almost half of responded said that the menopause had been treated as a joke in their workplace and 28% said that the menopause was treated negatively in their workplace. 


There are many actions employers can take to support women going through the menopause. Attitudes to the menopause can range from empathetic and understanding to insensitive and jokey, to a complete lack of sympathy for employees who are experiencing this normal life event.  Menopause is an equality where work factors have the potential to impact positively or negatively on a woman’s experience of the menopause and is part of The Equality Act 2010.

Loretta Dignam, who set up the Menopause Hub, a multidisciplinary medical clinic in Dublin in 2018, after experiencing three years of dreadful menopausal symptoms says, 'the menopause is where mental health was ten years ago' (Dignam, 2021).   Dignam concludes that women themselves are not well educated about menopause and employers even less so.   


This presentation will provide a background to opening the menopause discussion with staff and students across the six campuses of Munster Technological University.  An online lunch and learn webinar was organized and presented by a menopause expert in April 2021.  This was available free of charge to all within the university and was also available to external participants.  Follow-up actions have taken place and another event is planned for World Menopause Day on 18 October 2021.  



Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. (2021). “A Guide to Managing Menopause at Work’, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Dignam, L.  (2021). The Menopause Hub [Accessed May 2021].

Hardy, C., Griffiths, A., Thorne, E.  (2019).  “Tackling the Taboo in the UK:  Talking about Menopause-related Problems at Work”,  Journal of Workplace Health.  

Irish Congress of Trade Unions.  (2018).  [Accessed May 2021].

Paul, J.  (2003).  “Health and Safety and the Menopause:  Working Through the Change”, London:  Trade Union Congress. 

Reynolds, F.  (1999).  “Distress and Coping with Hot Flushes at Work:  Implications for Counsellors in Occupational Settings”, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 12 (4), 353-61. 

Creating an Age Friendly University

Professor Margaret Linehan, Munster Technological University, Ireland


Ireland's newest university, Munster Technological University (MTU), was designated as an Age-Friendly University, in May 2021. MTU has an extensive regional footprint with six campuses across the south-west region of Cork and Kerry and has a student body of more than 18,000.   MTU now joins a global and growing network of Age-Friendly Universities.  This presentation will illustrate how MTU is a welcoming and inviting place to people of all ages and will summarize some of the core activities which helped achieve Age-Friendly designation. 


Since commencing in 2012, Dublin City University developed Ten Principles of an Age-Friendly University which set out a framework for institutions of higher education to embrace Age-Friendly practices.  These principles highlight distinctive contributions that can be made by addressing the needs of older adults.  To achieve the designation, the university must demonstrate its commitment to ten principles, relating to older adults.  The purpose of an Age-Friendly university is to encourage the participation of older adults in all core activities of the university, including educational and research programmes.  These have been adopted by universities in Ireland, the UK, the USA, and Canada which together comprise the Age-friendly Universities network.  The Age-friendly University views older adults as a particularly important group whose participation in university life is enriching for everybody.


The MTU mission is to lead change and, through education, empower people for a successful future in a globalised world.  MTU’s vision consists of leading transformation through education, while MTU’s values incorporate being inclusive, engaging, dynamic and bold.  MTU is fostering a culture for success by preserving the warm, welcoming, entrepreneurial, innovative, people-oriented culture and community for which it is known. 


MTU is an equal opportunities employer and has many older staff members engaged in all core activities.  MTU also has many older adults as part of its student cohort in both educational and research activities.  MTU strongly encourages applications from mature candidates and is continually working towards wider entry routes to increase participation of adult learners.  MTU’s Mature Student Office hosts information sessions, one-to-one meetings with the Mature Student officers, and offers a peer support network for older students.   MTU has identified proficiency in mathematics as a barrier for some older learners and offers a preparatory maths programme for these students. 


MTU promotes the personal and career development of its staff.   MTU has a comprehensive programme for continuing staff development committed to meeting the changing demands of the workplace in a dynamic, knowledge-based economy and society and the changing roles of the university staff.  It is MTU’s policy to make provision for staff development for all categories of staff.   Staff are supported to pursue courses in other Higher Education Institutions at master and doctoral levels. 

In April 2021, as part of MTU’s equality, diversity, and inclusion activities, an event celebrating age was held, titled “Age is just a number.”  The online event offered an insight in generational differences while featuring inspiring talks and experiences of successful MTU professionals. The overall aim was to encourage people to remove the lens of age to view and label individuals, and to shift the focus to their abilities, skills, experience, and knowledge, where it belongs.

MTU also promotes intergenerational learning and research, together with providing opportunities for 'second careers'.  In summary, by working together to promote an inclusive approach to healthy and active ageing and addressing specific issues affecting older adults, ensures that MTU is a university for all ages that welcomes the opportunity to transform lives and societies through education, engagement, research, and innovation.  

Speakers 5

Dr Iro Konstantinou and Dr Elizabeth Miller



Pearson College London


Understanding the experience of mature students completing a degree apprenticeship

Even though there is plethora of research into work-based learning, to date there is little research into how mature students navigate work-based learning. With the current government focus on lifelong learning, we need to understand how mature students can balance their studies and work and how they adjust to higher education. This paper discusses the narratives of mature students completing their CMDA (Chartered Management Business Apprenticeship) alongside a BA in Business Management. The paper draws upon data collected through 1-2-1 supervision sessions with Level 5 mature-aged students through narrative analysis. Prominent themes include the struggles of balancing work, studies and childcare; fitting into a higher education culture which tends to be stereotyped as one for younger students; the difficulties of adjusting to rigorous study many years after leaving school or completing another degree; and being seen as a student while having a job role where they are seen (by themselves and others) as accomplished in their careers. Our paper will argue the importance of understanding the academic abilities and individual needs of mature students; being understanding of personal circumstances; and ensuring they have the necessary means to adjust in a higher education setting which might be geared towards catering for younger people.


Speaker 6

Marty Wright (and Raymond Johnstone)



Glasgow Caledonian University


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do. 

For a UK based university faculty that delivers a bespoke WorkBased suite of under and postgraduate programmes to a major South African client the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion ( E,D & I) agenda is important. Pre pandemic E,D and I was about access to professionally relevant education that resulted in having an internationally recognised qualification, where it previously had not existed and a possible route to promotion. Early into the COVID pandemic E, D and I became about continuity and contingency of the whole suite of programmes when suddenly access to computer equipment and Wifi were impacted on by the global message STAY AT HOME. 

Our students were not in the workplace to access their work IT kit nor the online or resources part of their education and the lecturers could neither travel to South Africa or within it. 

Immediately the Programme Teams reached out to the continuing students to ascertain the significance and implications of their personal IT challenges. We had a group of students who were on their final module and we knew that we would be able to provide them with additional time to complete their studies but we were less certain on the impact of working from home on students who were on the 3rd module of a 6th module sequence. What we did know was in a Certificate ( SCQF7 ) Level group of 100 students, no one in class ( the face to face or contact sessions) had a laptop ( neither personal or work owned); in a Diploma Level ( SCQF8) class of 80 students perhaps 2 or 3 students had laptops in class and in a similarly sized Degree level class perhaps 10 students had laptops with them. By contrast all the honours and masters students have company issue laptops because of the nature of their role. 

The response rates and the results of an immediate and quick survey of our certificate, diploma & degree students confirmed only a 1/3rd of the students had access to IT kit and a decision to press pause on their programme was made (losing in effect a trimester of learning) for our continuing students but also delaying our next intake. This pause to permit us to work on solutions that addressed E,D and I. 

Our next intake were Students who had already been selected ( for May 2020 start) but whose acceptance onto the course was based on them having access to a computer or laptop, but we now had evidence to show for many, probably most, their access was to a communal workplace computer/laptop that could not simply be taken home to permit work & study to continue. E, D and I had taken on an additional meaning and we had to act quickly to address. 

Our action was to develop resources to guide our students on how to use their personal mobile devices to best advantage. To try and keep up the momentum of study & learning. ( This article has been written on my mobile phone! Right thumb only ! )


These resources are now incorporated into our induction programme which we completely redesigned and delivered in a phased approach over a number of months to slowly and surely ensure our delayed 'new' intake could engage with the Programme materials & gain IT literacy. This also helped the team gain a greater insight into the E, D and I challenges of a new intake. 

Our third measure to address E, D and I was to adopt a model affectionately referred to as the W(right) & Johnstone model whereby we purchased 2 laptops, made arrangements to have mobile wifi devices & in room facilitators in country at the normal venue, with the UK based programme team streamed in live to deliver the classes. Travel within South Africa in September 2020 was permitted but we had to account for social distancing, use of masks and a range of other restrictions including limitations on class size which meant double teaching and a start time of 06:00 because of the time difference. All in the name of equality and inclusivity of access and sustainability during adversity. 

Finally as we now enter a potential third wave of the global pandemic, a South African winter, renewed home working measures (1st June - 31st August 2021) and a need and desire to continue our programme delivery as well as start our next intake ( September 2021) it is timely to repeat our survey to establish equity of IT access. 

At the time of writing we are waiting for our students to respond to the following three questions. 

Question 1 

During any period of third wave restrictions will you have access to a PC, laptop or similar device that will enable you to remain connected with GCULearn AND allow you to submit work including assignments? (please provide a very short clear statement on this which should simply include “YES” or “NO”)

Answer:    yes/no

Question 2

If any new and future restrictions resulted in us being unable to deliver via the traditional 2-day Esselenpark contact sessions, would you be able to join a remote on-line 2-day event from your home?

Answer:     yes/no

Question 3

If any new and future restrictions resulted in us being unable to deliver via the traditional 2-day Esselenpark contact sessions, would you be able to join a remote on-line 2-day event from your work?

Answer:     yes/no

The response rate as much as the responses will steer out next actions and will drive our next phase of a heart felt desire to address E, D and I for our South African students. 

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