The next #LTHEChat Wednesday 7th March 8-9PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Liz Austen on “Can we talk about Whiteness?”
Liz Austen is a Senior Lecturer in Research, Evaluation and Student Engagement at Sheffield Hallam University.
Her current interests centre on the diversity of student experiences within higher education. This includes evaluating pedagogic interventions for improving student engagement, exploring explanations for differential student outcomes and investigating the complexities of teaching excellence. She is interested in the scope and range of institutional research using the student voice, and particularly the use of digital storytelling. Liz is now using her significant teaching experience and research background in areas of social justice to lead funded research and present her work both locally and nationally.
Blog posts: https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/steer/tag/liz-austen/
Can we talk about Whiteness?
I am not an expert in critical race theory – I’m just putting that out there – but recently I have begun to explore notions of privilege within Higher Education. You don’t have to be an expert to realise that inequity is pervasive, you just need to start looking, really looking. And once you’ve seen it, don’t ignore it (or rationalise it as ‘unconscious’). Talk about it.
And here lies a problem – admittedly, conversations about privilege, and in particular White privilege, are difficult.
A team of researchers recently reflected on the challenges and barriers that they faced when trying to implement changes to the curriculum which had been shown to address differential student outcomes. They concluded that they had misjudged the ‘readiness’ of the institution to talk or action change and the impact of a ‘Critical Whiteness’ lens on explanations for differential student outcomes. Then they began start conversations: Have you had your Whiteness pointed out today? (If applicable); Why don’t White students mix in?; Why don’t White students work harder?
You can listen to our story here.
And then I hope we can talk about it.
We are working with colleagues from across the sector to develop a Critical Whiteness Toolkit. If you are interested in this development please do get in touch.