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Diversity efforts in Higher Education – Contentions and alignments

Webinar with Lucienne Wagner, University of Potsdam/University of Koblenz and Sofie Smeets, Utrecht University

Info about event


Monday 6 February 2023,  at 12:00 - 14:00


Online webinar

Zoom link: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/67645119959

Diversity and Its Discontents (Lucienne Wagner, University of Potsdam/University of Koblenz)

This presentation draws on insights of my PHD research - a situational analysis of critical diversity politics in the context of higher education in Germany. The starting point of my empirical research was the competitive relationship between gender equality and diversity policies in institutions of higher education in Germany and the role of intersectionality in processes of institutionalization. Situational analysis (Clarke et al. 2015) allows me to show the complexity of the field, its various actors and arenas and which positions get taken or not taken in the field. I will carve out the various discontents of diversity and end on the question of hope for decolonizing the university.

Setting sail for inclusion. Dissecting diversity policy in Dutch higher education (Sofie Smeets, Utrecht University)

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Hogeschool Rotterdam, a higher education institution in the Netherlands, I noticed how key players drew a direct line between student drop-out rates and (the lack of) space for diversity and inclusion. As a response policy was developed specifically targeted towards an inclusive learning environment, including firm and clear statements. However, in contrast to this solid presentation, through document analysis and interviews with educational advisors and other relevant actors I observed a myriad of parallel and sometimes competing narratives, ranging from teacher autonomy, professionalisation, study and student success, educational quality, social justice reparation to sense of belonging. In all this movement the diversity discourse perpetually sinks and surfaces. I wonder how these different narratives can be understood, how and where they come together and to which purpose. What do these wave-like currents mean for the strong statements made on diversity and inclusion in strategic policy documents? By examining these processes and dynamics I also hope to shine a light on the diversity discourse Hogeschool Rotterdam employs.

Bio Lucienne Wagner:

Lucienne is an associated member of the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms at the University of Potsdam and a PhD candidate at the University of Koblenz supervised by Prof. Dr. Ina Kerner and Prof. Dr. Gülay Çağlar (Free University of Berlin). Lucienne holds an M.A. and B.A. in Social Sciences from Humboldt University in Berlin and studied at the University of California Berkeley as well as at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

She worked as senior research scientist for Citizens For Europe on Antidiscrimination and Equality Data and together with the research team of ‘Vielfalt Entscheidet’ developed an equality data collection tool and co-authored the study about its application in Berlin’s public administration. Before that Lucienne worked as a research assistant at the Department for Sociology at the Free University of Berlin. Lucienne also is a certified Social Justice and Diversity Trainer. 

Bio Sofie Smeets:

Sofie Smeets (1983) is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology (Utrecht University) and a recipient of the Dutch research council (NWO) scholarship for her ethnographic PhD research project: “It’s just education. On the (im)possibilities of an inclusive pedagogy in Dutch higher education.” She combines her part time PhD project with teaching at Hogeschool Rotterdam, and employs an insider-ethnographer role using a teacher’s praxis with ethnographic fieldwork. She lives in Utrecht (NL) with her partner, child and cat, and is an avid singer, saxophone player and eternal piano debutant.