Interactive workshop: Diversifying voices of expertise in higher education
- Iain Cross, Associate Dean of Learning & Teaching, St Mary’s University
- Obi Oputa, Careers Consultant, St Mary's University.
The covid pandemic and pressing challenges for higher education, such as responding to the Black Lives Matter movement and the climate crisis, show the importance of drawing on diverse sources of expertise from our university community of students and staff. However, communities of expertise can be highly exclusionary. ‘Experts’ in higher education and other professions often inadvertently construct barriers to ‘non-experts’, such as by using complex or specialist language, and by adopting practices which alienate others (e.g. Ottinger, 2010). Whilst this is often unintentional, it reduces the diversity of voices that contribute to debates about how universities work and what they do. In this workshop, we reflect on our experiences of co-authoring an academic paper about BAME student employability (Oputa & Cross, 2021). The author partnership brought together two contrasting ‘expert’ voices and positioned students as experts in their own learning and career management. The process of research and writing the article demonstrates the importance of inclusive approaches to expertise. Through a series of activities, participants will explore their own expertise and develop a critical understanding of inclusivity in expert communities. We aim to inspire participants to develop inclusive partnerships to academic writing to broaden the diversity of voices in the academic literature.