PM SESSION: Liberating the Classroom – Dave Thomas

Join us at 16:00, Wednesday 28th April for a talk with Dave Thomas!

Dave S. P Thomas is an Occupational Therapist (specialism in Occupational Science), a Public Health Specialist, and Doctoral Researcher. He previously managed the University of Kent’s Student Success project, which conducts research on inequalities in academic attainment and develops interventions to improve student’s educational experiences and academic outcomes. His current research adopts a ‘race-focused’ approach in exploring the relationship between university students’ perceptions of the cultural sensitivity of the curriculum of their program of study and their engagement – as measured by their interaction with teachers and their interest in their program of study. He has developed and validated a novel set of Culturally Sensitive Curricula scales and two Interaction with Teachers scales to enable students in postsecondary education to measure the impact of the curriculum’s unacknowledged ‘whiteness’ on their engagement and overall achievement.

This research, and indeed his scholarly outlook, grows from a deep understanding of contemporary structural inequalities — what Professor Ibram X. Kendi (2019) calls ‘racist policies’ — and of the need for social justice. He is the lead editor of Doing Equity and Diversity for Success in Higher Education (Thomas and Arday, 2021), a book that illuminates the dynamic interplay between historical events and discourse and more sophisticated and racialized acts of violence, and co-edited Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidoscope for Empowered Action (Thomas and Jivraj, 2020), a book that aims to amplify the otherwise silenced voices of students of colour in the academy. He is also the co-editor of Doing Diversity in Academia; Practices and Pitfalls (2021, Bristol University Press).  He brings an intersectional critical-race-theory perspective to both his teaching and his scholarship. 

ABSTRACT

The Owl of Minerva has flown, the university is dead: Can equity and diversity be done for success in higher education now?

The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk. Wisdom often comes too late, once the ship has sailed and the damage has been done. Will this be the fate of higher education in relation to Doing Equity and Diversity for Success? Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, racialized civil unrest, unprecedented changes and challenges, equity and justice remain elusive for people from minority ethnic backgrounds in higher education, who are now, more than ever struggling to breathe. Universities are a microcosm of a society whose foundations are built on colonialism and imperialism, racism xenophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other poisonous manifestations of hate. In this session, Thomas introduces the timeless volume (Thomas and Arday 2021) that immortalises the perspectives of anti-racist scholars-activists who implore that universities acknowledge and reconcile with their imperial history and legacy of colonialism, in order to redouble their efforts to promote social justice and eliminate institutional racism and effect sustainable social transformations.

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