Keynote abstract (Day 2: Teaching and Learning conference): "When rights are not enough: what is? - The need for 'politicised' compassion in the quest for social justice"
Associate Professor Dr Suanne Gibson, Plymouth University
‘Widening participation’, ‘inclusive pedagogy’, ‘access’, ‘diversity’, ‘raising aspirations’, are widely-occurring policy terms and academic discourses within the international education community. They are drawn on when referring to, or engaging with, questions of social justice and equality within and across international university institutions. What translates into practise is known to be problematic, in many cases unsuccessful, and can reﬂect misinterpreted notions of inclusion.
In the past 20 years the world of HE in the UK has experienced many changes, not least those linked to the ubiquitous term: ‘inclusion’. My paper will historically locate this expression, reﬂecting on why it became such a popular reference in the world of education. Its growth in use, as partly linked to policy’s misuse, its colonisation and various revisioned forms will be articulated. Stemming from the critical disability studies ﬁeld, a critique of ‘inclusive’ teaching toolboxes or ‘almanacs’ will be made alongside an invitation to re-consider previously held views that the connected discourse of wider access to university is steeped in socially just values.
I suggest a more contemporary deﬁnition of inclusion is needed: ‘a community of diversity becoming a community of equals’. I also argue educators, as learners and with learners, need to become politicised. Universities and education institutions, need to reflect on what they see as their core, their rationale, who it is they are working for. It is in relation to such matters that the question of ‘compassion’ - for both students and faculty – needs to be addressed.
We are living in changing and challenging times, even more so if we openly connect ourselves and our work to that of ‘social justice’. If that is your stance then your journey