At this event, two researchers of Higher Education will share their current concerns relating to the persistent problematic of the inequalities, discrimination and delegitimation in the academy. Reflecting on the insights that have emerged in their work, Dr Jason Arday (Durham University) and Dr Grace Ese-Osa Idahosa (University of Johannesburg) will discuss the costs, affordances and agency of academics within the racialised, gendered and classed conditions of UK and South African higher education. It is anticipated that the different contexts of their research, the UK and South African higher education, will provide interesting comparisons and differences in their recommendations of the agential and structural opportunities and mechanisms which can be created to work against such conditions. Please register for the event here.
This dialogue will be followed by a social event from 1:00 – 2:00 for International and BAME staff to meet each other and the speakers. Those unable to attend the open talk are welcome to the social event at which refreshments will be served.
1. Mental health & BAME staff in the UK context: The impact of negotiating racial inequality & discrimination at university - Dr Jason Arday (Durham University)
In this discussion, Jason will draw from a working paper to propose that Black students, and, more widely, BAME people, experience mental health differently. Mental health problems for BME individuals are interwoven within different systemic issues concerning access, discrimination and inequality. Often those diagnosed amongst BAME communities are treated differently within mental health services in universities and society more generally, resulting in disparities regarding rehabilitation, satisfaction and positive outcomes.
Jason will offer suggestions and recommendations for how mental health support systems can be diversified for ethnic minority people within universities. Conclusions drawn will also consider how existing systems can function to work against the racism and isolation in wider society that puts ethnic minorities at risk in the first place, by acknowledging that this community are more likely to struggle, and less likely to receive the support required.
2. Social action & agency within South African higher education: Institutional & contextual histories impact on the conditions for change – Dr Grace Ese-osa Idahosa (University of Johannesburg)
Grace will draw from her recent book Agency and Social Transformation in South African Higher Education to discuss how individuals are capable of acting to enable transformation of structures and cultures through the lens of South African higher education. The book examines the role of agency in effecting change amidst the rigid conditions within South African universities. Arguing for a focus on transformation from below, it explores transformation and agency from the perspective of academic staff. Through discussing moments at which faculty members embedded in rigid structures and cultures perceive themselves as having had the agency to interrupt and transform them, despite their rigidity, this book describes the nuances of social action and agency within the South African higher education institutional context and the ways in which contextual histories may provide enabling/limiting conditions to individuals within them. This book makes an important contribution to the field of agency and social transformation theoretically, methodologically and geographically as it details the motivations for transformation, how individuals become agents of change and the practical experiences of these individuals from a localised perspective.
Dr Jason Arday is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Durham University in the Department of Sociology; a Visiting Research Fellow at The Ohio State University in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; a Research Associate at Nelson Mandela University in the Centre for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation; and a Trustee of the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading Race Equality Thinktank. Jason’s research focuses on Race, Education and Social Justice. In addition to numerous other texts, Jason is the recent co-author (with Paulette Williams, Sukhi Bath and Chantelle Lewis) of the Leading Routes’ The Broken Pipeline Report: Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding.
Jason is the author of the following titles: Considering Racialized Contexts in Education: Using Reflective Practice and Peer-Mentoring to support Black and Ethnic Minority educators; (Routledge); Being Young, Black and Male: Challenging the dominant discourse (Palgrave); and Exploring Cool Britannia and Multi-Ethnic Britain: Uncorking the Champagne Supernova (Routledge). He is the Co-Editor (with Professor Heidi Mirza) of the highly acclaimed Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, Whiteness and Decolonising the Academy (Palgrave). Jason is the Lead-editor of the book series on Race and Education (Palgrave) and serves on the Editorial Board of Educational Philosophy and Theory.
Dr Grace Ese-osa Idahosa is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg. With a background in Political Studies, her doctoral research was a hermeneutic phenomenological study which dealt with the subject of agency in the context of South African higher education transformation. Grace’s current research draws on the premise that if universities are to contribute to societal development, they will first have to transform themselves. She employs a structure, agency and transformation framework to understand how and under what conditions, individuals have the agency to effect transformation within their institutions. Furthermore, her research interrogates how social factors like gender, race, class, sexuality and ethnicity, intersects to enable/limit agency within specific context and is explored in her new book titled ‘Agency and Transformation in South African Higher Education: Pushing the bounds of possibility’. Her research interests include, higher education, social/organisational change, institutional culture, and body politics.
Her current project, titled ‘Mid-level Managers Agency for Transformation in Post-Conflict Higher Education’ (funded by the SRHE; in collaboration with Dr Dina Belluigi, QUB) interrogates the ways in which university middle-management, who are in key positions to engender social change within the higher education sector in Northern Ireland and South Africa, perceive they can be better empowered to enact their agency; and in what ways this is impacted by their gender and social location. The study hopes to contribute to comparative transnational findings regarding the challenges and possibilities for change within two post-conflict contexts.