Project Myopia April Workshop Roundup

We held a workshop on liberating and decolonising the academy and curriculum two weeks ago at King’s College London – thanks to everyone who was able to attend! Here’s some of the feedback our co-founder Toby Sharpe collated from the event and some photos too… and make sure you read to the end of the post for information on some exciting events coming up soon!

How would you rate the overall event?

72% Excellent, 28% Very Good

General comments:

“Very good learning experience”

– “Good group discussions, both small and large”

– “Learned a lot about how to handle certain situations”

What was your favourite thing about the day’s event?

– “The way you delivered the workshop made me feel safe and comfortable very quickly

– “Having my (many) blind spots pointed out, by hearing from people whose experiences of discrimination and exclusion I will never share on a personal level”

– “Discussing real-life, concrete, problematic teaching scenarios and pooling potential strategies and attitudes to adopt when dealing with them

“The amazing presenters and how much I learned. It’s amazing to know what’s happening, it’s inspiring”

“The case studies and group break outs were a great way to engage with the topics to create a more inclusive academic environment with practical solutions”

– “The discussions! All of it was very well formulated and arranged”

– “More people should be interested in this, it’s very important!

How would you practically change the learning experience at universities if you could?

  • Give tutors mandatory instruction in how to use trigger warnings before the start of teaching
  • Mandate implicit bias training for all students and all staff, including those in administrative, non-teaching positions
  • Hire more mental health and pastoral support staff from marginalized groups, as these professionals currently tend to poorly represent the student body’s diversity
  • Lists of resources on inclusivity should be given to staff and students before term starts
  • Mandate workshops for staff so that they discuss what limitations exist for students entering higher education
  • In introductory classes, make sure students are aware of tutor expectations, in terms of both work ethic and no tolerance of problematic behaviour or language
  • Decolonise fashion teaching: teaching students about cultures who inspire various designs, and letting them learn about the various cultural techniques that inspire the making of garments

If you could redesign the whole university experience with money being no object, what would you do?

  • Abolish tuition fees and create truly accessible free education
  • Increase contact hours for students in the UK, which are currently almost universally too few
  • Massively diversify staff in universities (both teaching and non-teaching), allowing marginalized peoples into the academy
  • Increase mental health support for BME teaching staff, and financially support them when they end up having to take on pastoral roles not in their job description

Manifesto: What Kind of University Do We Want?

  • A university that isn’t afraid to challenge students’ conventional thinking
  • A university that increases opportunities, representation, and institutional support for BME teaching staff and professors
  • A university that embraces Infectious Inclusivity
  • A university with dynamic and flexible guidelines and reading lists
  • An open, diverse, and inclusive space for representation and recognition of marginalized students
  • A university that acknowledges the colonial and racist practices and histories that have shaped our disciplines and institutions
  • A space in which racists are held to account
  • A university in which different groups can work together on collective aims
  • A learning space in which sexuality, gender and class aren’t considered “niche”, or “special interest”, or “optional” issues in our curricula, studied only by those who “profess and interest” in them.
Our co-founders Rianna Walcott and Toby Sharpe

Thanks so much to all those who attended this workshop! We’re excited to announce that we will be running a second workshop in May – click here for the Facebook event for all the details. This event will especially be focused towards General Teaching Assistants, but as always anyone from any level of academia is welcome. We will be discussing how classrooms can be made into a safe and welcoming learning environment for all, so come along and discuss with us!

And don’t forget that our Anniversary Event is on Wednesday 24th April – in less than two weeks! We’re having a panel discussion with absolutely stellar speakers (we’ve been announcing them on our social media) who are at the forefront of liberating academia, followed by drinks and time to network! It’s going to be a really special event – so book your ticket on Eventbrite now so you don’t miss out.

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