Inclusive Education at LSE


Creating an inclusive student experience is central to the LSE 2030 Strategy. The Inclusive Education Action Plan is focused on 5 key areas of work which are central to the School strategy:

Inclusive Education at LSE

1. Developing Higher Education Identities and Study Skills (including digital literacy skills)

As undergraduate students progress through their programmes they develop their identities as scholars. In the first-year students are focussed on relationship building both peer to peer but also with the academic staff. In the second year the skills shift to finding ways of working independently and further developing their research and inquiry skills; in the third-year students have found their own interests and are encouraged to showcase these skills (Sabri, 2017). This element of the IEAP will consider the transitions of students over their 3 years and we will be carrying out research with LSE LIFE into this area of work. 

2. Academic Mentoring

The academic mentoring relationship is essential to the development and maintenance of a sense of belonging, community and educational enhancement. It is both an educational and pastoral relationship. Academic mentoring will be part of pre-arrival, induction, relationship building, year on year support. Establishing a strong community of practice of academic mentors across the school is an integral part of strengthening the School’s work in this area.  

In the first year of the IEAP’s implementation, the focus has been on transforming academic mentoring at LSE. A series of long tables with staff and students have been carried out alongside a widely distributed survey with current undergraduate students to evaluate how academic mentoring is currently implemented at the department-level and academic mentors’ needs for support and development. For resources, guidance, and helpful contacts for academic mentoring please visit the Academic Mentoring Portal

3. Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive education to date has been focussed on ways in which to ‘induct’ what is considered ‘different’ into already established forms and dominant institutional cultures. (Gibson, 2015). Inclusive pedagogy at LSE will ensure all students are taught in ways they all benefit and learn from. It will focus on concept, content, teaching, assessment and feedback.

We will be working with departments to highlight good practice and support developments in this area. Inclusive pedagogy evaluations will take place through annual monitoring and we will be working on ways to evaluate this with staff and students.

4. Curriculum Enhancement

Based on the feedback we have received from our initial engagement in this area, the work on the curriculum is divided into two parts (i) Diversifying and (ii) Decolonising. It is important that both areas are understood, as to diversify is not to decolonise. Diversification of the curriculum will explore how to expand the curriculum to be inclusive and intersectional, including the work of authors from all parts of the world. This section will work on the content of what is being delivered and by whom.

We will use the framework adopted by Professor Shaku Banaji in the Department of Media and Communications. Our work on decolonising will focus on considering what is meant by decolonising across different disciplines. It is important that we have a detailed and informed discussion on decolonising before we can make claims to actual work on decolonising.

  • Diversifying: expanding the curriculum to ensure it is inclusive and intersection and examining what content is being taught and by whom.
  • Decolonising: making space for informed and detailed discussions on what decolonising means across disciplines. 

5. Anti-Racism Training

The Eden Centre hosts a section of our Atlas programme of academic development workshops specifically dedicated to anti-racism training and practice-sharing. You can explore the list of sessions for Summer Term here.

The resources for the sessions will soon be made available here.

6. Links to LSE Blogs 

McFarlane. T ‘Woman, speak thy truth’

Book review of ‘Presumed Incompetent II: Race, Class, Power and Resistance of Women in Academia’ - collection of essays that shed light on obstacles women from BIPOC communities face in the academy. 

Immigration, indigeneity, intersectionality, feminism, and heterogeneity among professors of colour based on ethnicity, social class, religious affiliation, and sexuality, are all themes unearthed to reveal fissures among those pursuing, producing, and promoting knowledge in higher education institutions

Roy. T ‘What decolonising economics means for someone who read economics in India'

Blog interrogates eurocentrism of Economics as a taught discipline, particularly for those in the developing world - “America-dependent”.

Indian economics said that nature deeply influenced economic conditions. Much of mainland South Asia falls in a climatic zone called the tropical monsoon...climate causes drought if the monsoon is weak and floods if the monsoon is strong. Surely, any worthwhile economics for such a region should start with an account of geography and environmental risk...American textbooks that we read, geography and environmental risk did not exist

'Decolonising the UK academy at the limits: settler-colonialism and the neoliberal university'

Blog considers drawbacks when decolonisation, which initially began as a student movement, becomes a metaphor in the neoliberal university - short-cuts to anti-racism and silencing existing forms of colonisation.

...critically reflect on the limits of academic decolonisation in a neoliberal backdrop where settler-colonial domination is habitually normalised and rarely questioned. What happens to decolonisation in the absence of internationalist solidarity and anti-colonial critique? And can we really decolonise the curriculum without explicitly linking our efforts to struggles against settler power in Israel/Palestine, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the US, and beyond?

Fercovic. M 'Access ain’t inclusion'

Against the backdrop of discussions regarding community and inclusion, the author looks at how Anthony Abraham Jack’s book “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, “makes an important contribution to our understanding of how students from similarly disadvantaged social backgrounds navigate the same elite university so differently”.

uncovers this lingering yet differentiated influence of class in shaping the lives of disadvantaged students in a wider context of escalating inequalities – racial, geographic and residential – in the US...The Privileged Poor aims to provide a solid answer to the following question: how can students from similarly disadvantaged social backgrounds navigate the same elite university so differently?

Sequeira. L 'Three unis discuss what they’re doing about the attainment gap'

Examines how several UK higher education institutions are planning to close the unexplained attainment gaps for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students. 

Some mistakenly attribute the importance of the “attainment gap” to the impact it stands to have on league tables or kitemarks such as the Teaching Excellence Framework or Race Equality Charter. Indeed these factors help to prioritise the issue; but the more pressing question, which the attainment gap poses, is about the authenticity of our degree classifications. Unfortunately when framed as the “attainment gap,” the actions of the students are positioned as central to the issue. This can result in a regressive conversation rooted in deficit thinking about how we can best make BME students fit into an academic system which privileges a Eurocentric epistemology.”

Decolonising Feminism: Reflections on the Encounter with the Western Academy

Author examines what it means to decolonise feminist theory - different ways we can think about “theory” beyond Eurocentism, what does decolonial feminist work entail in a Western university?

Radical schools of thought and practice have always been, and will always be reformatted in the service of power— part of the project is to use these deployments and appropriations to hold institutions, and ourselves, accountable to the politics we claim in calling ourselves decolonial and/or feminist…

Salem. S “On teaching empire in the contemporary classroom: from reading lists to pedagogy”

Author “explores some of the possibilities and challenges in teaching on empire in the contemporary English classroom, and connects this to debates around the British educational curriculum and calls to decolonise the university, particularly in the context of the LSE.”

Albayrak. N “Diversity helps but decolonisation is the key to equality in higher education”

Author looks at distinction between diversity and decolonisation in universities, and makes the case for the necessity of decolonisation in order to challenge existing system

More specifically, minority academics do not have a chance to represent their cultural values and perspectives in their career because of their differences being perceived as not typical or different than the so-called standards of academia. Even if they do, their scientific objectivity as well as academic qualities and products start to get questioned...diversity without decolonisation is not enough to bring equality and fairness into higher education.”

Ahmet. A “Moving beyond the talk: Universities must become anti-racist”

Author discusses work on inclusive education and offers a call to action to transform anti-racism from a policy to a practice.

Addressing racial barriers in HE means we must recognise each other’s humanity and dismantle forms of dehumanisation as they relate to, for example, class, (dis)ability, land dispossession, patriarchy, religion, and sexuality. The LSE Inclusive Education Action Plan (IEAP) seeks to do this. It is one strand of work that LSE has committed to, to embed change in the institutional environment.”

Salem. S “On teaching anticolonial archives”

Author outlines what decolonisation means in the context of higher education... “highlights that it is a radical project of institutional transformation that lies in exposing and upturning the colonial underpinnings of our universities”

It is important then, that decolonising the curriculum does not become the aim for decolonial efforts in HE, at the expense of the more profound pedagogical efforts needed to decolonise our classrooms. Frank, open and often uncomfortable conversations about the realities of racial and postcolonial trauma inside and outside the walls of the institution go a long way to destabilising institutional hierarchies beyond the scope of the reading list.”

Saini. R “From management meetings to meaningful change: risks of institutional capture in the decolonisation of UK higher education and recommendations for delivering structural change”

Author outlines what decolonisation means in the context of higher education... “highlights that it is a radical project of institutional transformation that lies in exposing and upturning the colonial underpinnings of our universities.”

It is important then, that decolonising the curriculum does not become the aim for decolonial efforts in HE, at the expense of the more profound pedagogical efforts needed to decolonise our classrooms. Frank, open and often uncomfortable conversations about the realities of racial and postcolonial trauma inside and outside the walls of the institution go a long way to destabilising institutional hierarchies beyond the scope of the reading list.”

Bhopal.K “How to start dismantling white privilege in higher education.”

Author argues to address problem of racism in higher education must start by acknowledging the existence of institutional racism and white privilege.

Racism exists at every level of society: it permeates our schools, our colleges, and our universities. It is alive in all elements of society, our popular culture, our media, and the social spaces we occupy. We do not live in a post-racial society. What you look like – if you are black or from a minority ethnic group – determines how you will be judged. Race acts as a marker of difference in a society poisoned by fear, insecurity, and instability.”

Ahmet. A and Howarth. C “‘We need to speak about race’: Examining the barriers to full and equal participation in university life”

Part of project entitled ‘Race in the Academy’ investigating why so few black and ethnic minority academics are attracted to the LSE and why it struggles to retain black and ethnic minority academic staff.

Bhopal. K and Henderson. H “Gender over Race? Equity and inclusion in higher education”

Authors summarise the findings of a new study on the experiences of higher education staff working towards the Athena SWAN Charter and the Race Equality Charter.

Given the stark and persistent racial inequalities in UK higher education, it is crucial that these are not allowed to be conflated with or replaced by more familiar discussions around gender equality. Through such a conflation, HEIs could appear to be conducting work on redressing inequality, while ensuring that the very issues that exclude people of colour from the academy are further excluded from discussions within the academy.

Sundaresan. J “To reimagine Trafalgar Square is to redesign the curriculum”

With colonial-era monuments and legacies being questioned by the Fallist and Black Lives Matter movements, the author “reflects on how these tensions play out in the curriculum and pedagogy for postcolonial students.”

Do all university programmes and curricula have a responsibility to help learners to reflect on their own identity and subjectivity? Can curricula function as a resource and a means to enable the beginning of true learning? Is there a role for personal histories and identities as learning and teaching resources in pedagogic spaces?...True internationalisation calls for a radical redesign using genuine co-construction of the curriculum rather than by including different others as exotic diversity while maintaining existing hierarchies based on Eurocentric modernity and coloniality.”

 

Events and Workshops 


COVID-19: Move online 

While we are maintaining our priorities for this academic year, we have adapted our work to respond to the crisis as it develops. Since LSE’s move to online teaching, learning, and assessments, we have concentrated our work on supporting student-facing staff fulfil their pastoral and academic advising duties. To this effect, we host fortnightly sessions on academic mentoring at a distance (see ‘Related events’ section below), from which we have collaboratively produced the following guidance: academic mentoring at a distance FAQsgood practices, and preparing for assessments. We have also created advice on supporting students and have organised a workshop on digital inclusion.

For updates on our COVID-19 response work, please check this page and the Eden Centre’s Twitter

For further information, please contact Dr Akile Ahmet, Academic Developer Inclusive Education: a.ahmet@lse.ac.uk

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