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Addressing Access

Addressing Access: Widening Participation and the Arts and Humanities

Wednesday 11 April | 0900-1700 | Open University, Camden

Registration is now closed. There is a waiting list available, please use the form below.

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This doctoral training event seeks to promote the value of Widening Participation in the Arts and Humanities for PhD students. It will take into consideration the recent changes to higher education and current Widening Participation strategies. The event will bring together a range of organisations and individuals who are dedicated to developing new initiatives for increasing access to higher education, with a view to sharing best practice and encouraging greater PhD student involvement in outreach activities. By showcasing exciting new strategies in the Arts and Humanities across higher education institutions and non-higher education institutions we hope to facilitate discussions about the challenges involved in, and the continuing value of, Widening Participation.

The benefits for participating PhD students will include the development of the engagement, influence and impact dimensions of their research: PhD students will have the opportunity to make connections with and design collaborative projects with non-HEIs and with each other; they will consider teaching strategies tailored to the retention of low-participation groups studying the Arts and Humanities at university; and they will be provided with the opportunity to develop strategies for the dissemination and communication of their research in a form that will inspire low-participation groups to study the Arts and Humanities. Learning about the importance of WP as part of a career in the Arts and Humanities, and about WP careers outside of the academy, will play a crucial role in the professional and career development of PhD students. Through a focus on creative problem-solving in light of the recent changes to HE, the workshop sessions will develop the personal and intellectual abilities of participants.

Conference organisers: Katie Danaher, Katherine Kruger, Nicole Mennell

Please use the form at the bottom of this page to register


+ Speakers

Dr Akile Ahmet, Lecturer in Sociology of Race, University of Middlesex Akile is currently a lecturer in the Sociology of Race at Middlesex University. She is academic lead for work on Diversifying the Curriculum. Akile, alongside Caroline Howarth, leads the Race in the Academy Project at LSE, which examines the experiences of black and ethnic minority academics and postgraduate students. Akile’s PhD was on mixed race masculinities and experiences of ‘home’. Since completing her PhD Akile has worked on several research projects with a focus on HE, race, ethnicity, inequality and families. In 2009 she worked alongside a team of researchers at Goldsmiths, examining ‘Diversity and Progression of Social Work Students’, she then went onto help develop a series of on-line ‘toolkits‘ from this project.

Dr Steven Colburn, Placements and Partnerships, CHASE DTP Steven is responsible for developing and maintaining partnerships with non-Higher Education organisations, such as the BBC, the British Library, and the British Film Institute. He arranges for these organisations to provide placements for CHASE students. He also develops training opportunities for doctoral students. Steven received a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex in 2013. While studying for his PhD, Steven worked for the University of Sussex’s Careers and Employability Centre as the Placements and Work Experience Officer.

Rachael Curzons, Chief Operating Officer, Fearless Futures Rachael has been a teacher and school leader in London, and was the Teaching and Learning Director at the Brilliant Club where she oversaw the training of hundreds of PhD researchers to work with young people in schools. Now COO of Fearless Futures, Rachael works with vulnerable young women across the country to understand and challenge the root causes of inequality across all intersections. Rachael graduated from King's College, London with a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Education. She also holds a Master of Studies in Literature and Arts from the University of Oxford.

Dr Denise deCaires Narain, Reader, University of Sussex and CHASE DTP Director Denise teaches on postcolonial writing with an emphasis on the Caribbean and on women’s writing and postcolonial feminisms. She is currently working on a monograph on the relationship between ‘maids and madams’ in a selection of contemporary postcolonial women’s texts. She has published widely on Caribbean women’s writing, including two monographs, Caribbean Women’s Party: Making Style and Olive Senior in the ‘Writers and their Work’ series. She is Reviews Editor for Contemporary Women’s Writing and one of the editors for Palgrave Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing. This Spring, she is a Research Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

Dr Katie Faulkner, Visiting Lecturer and Academic Coordinator for Widening Participation, Courtauld Institute of Art Katie is also Associate Lecturer at Arcadia University's London Centre, the History of Art Section Editor for the Open Library of Humanities, and has edited teachers' resources for art exhibitions at the Courtauld Gallery. Katie’s PhD focused on the work of five British sculptors associated with the New Sculpture movement and their interest in fashion, dress and drapery.

Dr Andy Fleming, Regional Manager, Brilliant Club Andy received his D.Phil in History from St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford in 2014. His thesis, ‘The Cult of St Thomas Cantilupe and the Politics of Remembrance’, looked at sainthood and politics in medieval England. Andy is currently the Regional Manager for East London and Kent at The Brilliant Club.

Gino Graziano, Joint Head of Widening Participation, University of Sussex Gino has been working in WP for over 13 years. After completing a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London, he began his career at the LSE, where he coordinated Saturday and Summer Schools, the student ambassador scheme and Aiming for a College Education. After LSE, Gino worked as WP Outreach Manager at the University of Brighton, where he worked with learners in primary schools to mature students on the Access to HE programme. Gino is a firm believer in collaborative working across all stages of the student lifecycle, between internal departments and HEIs. He also has a keen interest in developing approaches to WP that involve the audience as researchers and practitioners, as well as participants.

Gary Haines, Archivist, V &A Museum of Childhood Gary is involved in outreach work as part of his role with the Museum of Childhood. During his postgraduate studies he worked with the homeless charity Crisis delivering seminars in Art History to inspire participants to pursue further education. Gary’s research focuses on cultural depictions of the blind British soldiers of World War One in arts and literature of the period 1915–1939.

Dr Mary Henes, Commercial and Development Leader, Abianda Mary recently began working for Abianda, a social enterprise which works with gang-affected young women. Mary was formerly Area Director for The Brilliant Club, having first joined the charity as a PhD tutor while undertaking her thesis on British travellers in Iran in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at King’s College London. In her role at the charity, Mary delivered training to PhD tutors, particularly in designing literature programmes and facilitating academic discussions with primary and secondary school pupils. Since completing her PhD in 2012, Mary has had two academic articles published, as well as a joint edited collection with Palgrave Macmillan

Anthony Hudson, PhD student, University of East London Anthony is also the Research Manager of Continuum (the Centre for Widening Participation Policy Studies at UEL). His current work focuses on widening participation to PG study and access pathways to HE. His doctoral research focuses on the academic identity and learning careers of Access HE tutors. Anthony also developed and taught on New Beginnings, UEL's fast track HE access programme.

Dr Nick Neasom, Programme Officer, Sutton Trust Nick recently completed a PhD in Linguistics at UCL. His thesis investigates the phenomenon of synchronic chain shifting, arguing that it does not exist in any meaningful sense. After completing his PhD, Nick took up an internship with the Sutton Trust’s Programmes Team. In his current role at the Trust, he works on a wide range of social mobility programmes for young people.

Dr Graeme Pedlingham, Convenor of Foundation Years, University of Sussex Graeme is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Sussex, where he has led the University-wide interdisciplinary Foundation Years programme since its inception in 2015. One of the aims of this programme is to enhance access to HE at a leading, research-intensive HEI. Graeme also oversees student support, teaching and assessment, and admissions/recruitment (as Admissions Tutor) for the programme. He actively works with a range of WP organisations, such as AccessHE, The Brilliant Club and NEON. He has pedagogical interests in approaches to teaching students in transition between educational levels and identities, the role of anxiety in education, holistic models of education, university admissions and widening participation. Graeme also teaches and researches the gothic in literary and visual culture from the 19th-21st centuries.

Dr Lisa Stead, Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Exeter Lisa is also Deputy Admissions Officer for English in the College of Humanities. Lisa’s research primarily focuses on the relationships between literature, gender and audiences in the early and interwar periods, looking at intermedial exchanges between women's film and print culture. She is also a specialist in archival film and literary studies. A current strand of Lisa’s research includes histories of location filming in rural spaces, and the use of archival actuality footage in researching Deaf histories in the South West of England. Lisa’s work often involves collaboration and outreach projects, for example with the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, a project with Deaf communities in Bristol, Widening Participation with local secondary schools, and the Exeter Progression Scheme.

Rob Witts, CHASE DTP Manager Rob is the Manager of the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, a consortium of nine university institutions working together to support doctoral researchers in arts and humanities. In this role he works closely with the Director to oversee the governance of the DTP, including recruitment and selection process for studentship funding. He has worked in a range of roles in higher education administration for 12 years, and is interested in issues of access and fairness in higher education.

+ Student Speakers and abstracts

Ursula Blythe, MA Student, Philosophy of Education, University College London, Institute of Education Education threw me a life jacket; social sciences taught me how to swim; but philosophy saved my life (2017) This statement endeavours to illustrate Ursula’s experience as a mature student. Ursula firstly completed an Access to HE Programme in Humanities and Social Science, followed by a BA degree in Social and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. This transformative experience totally changed the course of Ursula’s life, particularly as she lost her sight late in life. Ursula is now studying an MA Philosophy of Education programme. For Ursula, philosophy helps the individual to reflect on their “sense of being” whilst endeavouring to understand the important questions that impact contemporary societies. Ursula currently teaches philosophy on a voluntary basis for the Open Book Project at Goldsmiths College, which supports people from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds, including those brought up in care, people with addiction, and/or mental health issues, ex-offenders, and mature students. Open Book: Making Philosophy Possible… During 2017, Ursula participated in the Open Book Prison Project by teaching introductory philosophy at Her Majesty's Young Offender Institution (HMYOI) in South-East London. This Goldsmiths/Isis Project is part of the Prisoners’ Education Trust’s PUPiL network, which aims to support and develop prison-university partnerships across England and Wales. The course content included the philosophy of art, the mind and body problem, political philosophy, personal identity, and cultural representation (e.g. dis-ability, gender, and race). Goldsmith’s students also participated in the course, acting as shadow researchers due to the lack of internet access. Discussions were fuelled by philosophical questions and methods of enquiry which increased the learner’s confidence when presenting their own credible arguments. Prison learners realised that “philosophy is a human endeavour” that is accessible to all participants, as it opened their hearts and minds concerning their current predicament and future possibilities. Open Book works hard to create these possibilities, particularly in the Arts and Humanities at Goldsmiths College.

Judith Johnson, PhD Student, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex Judith has been playwrighting for over 25 years. Her work has been produced at the Royal Court, National and Arcola theatres, amongst others. Much of her work has been in applied theatre and she has also written for radio, TV and film. Judith has taught at all levels and was a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of Greenwich/UEL (2007-2016). Her play Don’t Smile (written for Theatre of Debate in partnership with Leeds University School of Dentistry and School of Performance and Cultural Industries) won a Public Engagement with Research Award, 2016. Judith’s doctoral study examines her work with Razed Roof theatre company, an inclusive theatre company for people with learning disabilities, resident at Harlow Playhouse Theatre. This focuses on the devising and writing of a new script, Trisomy 21, which looks at Down’s Syndrome. Judith’s research is being carried out alongside the company, who she regards as her research partners. Don’t Smile and the Theatre of Debate Judith’s work with theatre companies is part of a continuing and developing movement, which is informed by both public engagement discourses and partnership schemes; two areas highlighted by the AHRC in their delivery plans 2016–2020. This innovative way of researching not only steps outside the Institution and collaborates with community groups, it often also co-opts non-academics and places them into an academic research process. Judith witnessed this process from ‘the other side’ when she and the Theatre of Debate, were invited to take part in a pilot project with Leeds University School of Dentistry, in collaboration with their School of Performance and Cultural Industries, to devise and write a play based on research done by the Dentistry Department. The resulting play was piloted in Batley Girls’ School. Students from the school, which has a high representation of pupils from disadvantaged communities, then participated in various spin-off activities, including peer-to-peer monitoring of oral health and tooth brushing behavior. This public engagement project demonstrates how academics from different backgrounds can work together within an institutional setting to reach out and disseminate their research, thus benefiting the wider community.

Lateesha Osbourne, PhD Student, Psychology Department, University of Bath Lateesha is a first-year PhD student in the department of psychology at the University of Bath. Her doctoral research focuses on Black students’ identity and sense of belonging. She combines ‘belonging’ with ideas of authenticity and connects this to misconceptions surrounding ‘generation snowflake’. Prior to her doctoral study, Lateesha worked as an Equality and Diversity trainer, developing and delivering courses such as Unconscious Bias and Racial and Cultural Competency. Currently, Lateesha is part of the Western Widening Participation Research Cluster and is involved in Widening Participation activities at the University of Bath. She has been a speaker at a number of Diversity and Inclusion events, such as the Joint Equality Forum hosted by the University of Bath and Bath Spa University. ‘Existing With an Explanation’: Black students’ experiences at a predominantly white institution Current Widening Participation agendas tend to focus on access, outreach and simply ‘getting students through the door’. Whilst there has been a steady increase in ‘non-traditional’ student numbers, there is less clarity about what happens once these students ‘get inside’. To address this, researchers and regulators advise institutions to look beyond the point of entry to ensure that they are adapting and catering to a diversifying student body (Araujo et al 2014; Department for Business Innovation and Skills 2017). Some work that does examine the student experience identifies student engagement and sense of belonging as factors which impact on retention and success (Thomas 2012; Thomas 2017). In exploring the experiences of Black students, this paper is interested in the types of interactions that these students have and how this is consequential to their sense of belonging. Using social psychological perspectives, this paper will discuss preliminary findings from one qualitative study which examines navigation, intergroup dynamics, coping mechanisms and strategies to reveal the ways that Black students persist despite having to ‘exist with an explanation’.

Chloe Trainor, PhD Student, School of History, University of Kent Chloe is a Chase-funded doctoral candidate at the University of Kent working in the field of Disability History. Her research examines the therapeutic, educational and occupational uses of arts and crafts, using art as a lens through which to explore broader social and cultural changes in the experience of disability in 20th century Britain. Chloe has worked for the University of Kent’s outreach department since 2012, delivering workshops for schools, colleges and community groups, in addition to mentoring looked-after children. More recently, Chloe completed a placement at the Wellcome Collection, where she was responsible for completing the research to develop the museum’s provision for disabled students, as well as co-delivering a number of workshops which provided a space for people with lived experience of mental and physical impairment to respond to the collections. Chloe currently works at Shape Arts, supporting on the “going live” phase of the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA). Shape Arts and the NDACA Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people. Since 1976, Shape has been providing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and running participatory arts and development programmes. Shape’s founding principle is that all disabled people should have the opportunity to participate fully in arts and culture, and the history of the organisation is firmly embedded within the Disability Arts Movement and disability politics more broadly. The story of this movement is currently being collected to form the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA), a £1-million Heritage Lottery Fund project of which Shape is the lead partner. NDACA is innovative in its approach to heritage, sharing stories which resonate with the political climate of today, and which recognise disabled people as active producers of a valuable and vibrant culture. The collection goes live later this year, offering an accessible, multi-layered, cultural experience, with an interactive website, pop-up exhibitions, touring digital cinema, a learning engagement programme with Disability History Month, as well as the NDACA wing at Buckinghamshire New University which will give new digital and object meaning to the rich history of the Disability Arts Movement. Through a variety of learning experiences, NDACA aims to advance the participation of disabled people by providing opportunities for them to engage with more representative historical narratives in a range of formats, as well as reaching out to the wider academic community to encourage them to embed more diverse histories of disability within their curriculum.

+ Sessions

1) The importance of Widening Participation in academic careers

Considering the increased awareness of progression and retention issues among under-represented groups within higher education, this session will focus on the importance of WP as part of an academic career. This session will include presentations from academics who are actively involved in WP initiatives.

Confirmed speakers: Dr Katie Faulkner, Dr Lisa Stead, Dr Graeme Pedlingham.

2) Widening Participation initiatives/outreach activities during your PhD

Aiming to encourage PhD students to consider the broader relevance of their work, the first session will focus on the value of involvement in WP initiatives or outreach activities during doctoral study. The workshop section of this session will provide a platform for PhD students to present case studies of their outreach activities and help those attending the event develop their own initiatives.

Confirmed speakers: Dr Steven Colburn, Rachael Curzons, Dr Andrew Fleming, Gino Graziano, Gary Haines, (student speakers tbc)

3) Widening Participation at postgraduate level

This session will seek to develop strategies for engaging more traditionally underrepresented students at both MA and PhD level in the Arts and Humanities. Issues around funding, the culture of learning at university and the diversification of curriculums will all be addressed in order to consider the retainment of underrepresented students at postgraduate level.

Confirmed speakers: to Dr Akile Ahmet, Dr Denise deCaires Narain, Anthony Hudson, Rob Witts.

4) Careers in Widening Participation outside of academia

In response to a growing concern among PhD students about future careers in the Arts and Humanities, the final session will be devoted to promoting careers in WP outside of HEIs. Individuals working in the sector will give presentations about their career trajectories and current roles, which will be followed by a Q+A session.

Confirmed speakers: Rachael Curzons, Dr Andrew Fleming, Gary Haines, Dr Mary Henes, Dr Nick Neasom.

+ Schedule

0900-0920 Registration

0920-0930 Introduction

0930-1030 Session 1

1130-1045 Coffee Break

1045-1315 Session 2

1315-1400 Lunch

1400-1530 Session 3

1530-1545 Coffee break

1545-1645 Session 4

1645-1700 Closing remarks


Registration is now closed. There is a waiting list available, please use the form below. Should a place become available, the event organisers will contact you.

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