Supporting diversity of knowledge in higher education

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Can the higher education curriculum be approached in a way that supports diversity and the inclusion of community knowledge and experiences?

Over the past academic year, I have been working with Dr Simon Warren at the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in NUI Galway to explore how the design of higher education curricula can be approached in a way that supports the development of inclusion and positive dispositions towards diversity and intercultural understanding. This ERASMUS+ project, “Decoding the Disciplines in European Institutions of Higher Education: Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Approach to Teaching and Learning,”, involves a partnership of 4 European higher-education institutions.

In my role as MA coordinator and lecturer on the MA Environment, Development and Society program at NUI Galway, my specific area of teaching specialism focuses on critically interrogating the social, cultural, political and experiential dimensions of environmental change. Through my work with Simon, I have focused on redesigning and developing a module on ‘Environment, Risk and Resilience’ in a way to enable students to develop critical conceptual skills for understanding and responding to a range of critical contemporary societal issues relating to sustainability transitions. Incorporating a range of student-centred pedagogical techniques, emerging from problem- and field-based learning traditions, emphasis has been placed on facilitating students to link critical scholarship on the social dimensions of climate change and environmental risk to real world cases and contexts. Students have been encouraged to think about environmental risk in terms of categories of difference, such as identity, class, gender, and ethnicity, and to critically interpret policy, political and cultural representations of environmental planning processes. Similarly, in other discipline contexts, students developing research projects related to climate change have been asked to think critically about the power relations of their methods as they plan to work with diverse communities globally.

Tomorrow (Friday, June 15th) we are holding an event in Galway City Museum (The Kitchen) to showcase and disseminate the research we have conducted on this to a wide audience both within and beyond the academy. Along with a number of other academics and representatives from social and environmental justice focused community-based organisations, I will be speaking at this event. Here I will be showcasing my teaching practice on the MA Environment, Society and Development ‘Environment, Risk and Resilience’ module to illustrate how a curriculum can be designed in a way that facilitates diversity of perspectives on intersectionality of knowledge and experiences of environmental risk and resilience (for more on intersectionality listen to this short (rather robotic but comprehensive) audiopedia podcast).

intersectionality

I will also be representing Transition Galway to offer a community development perspective on the role higher education can and should play in the democratisation of knowledge and for informing progressive change in society.

More information and a link to register for the event through EventBrite can be found here.

A link to the Facebook can be found here.

Event details:
Event: Supporting Diversity of Knowledge in Higher Education
Date: Friday 15th June, 6 pm – 7.30 pm
Venue: The Kitchen, Galway City Museum

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