Notes from ARLT SIG 20th March 2024 panel discussion – Researching on antiracism – the people and the purpose

by Dr Teeroumanee Nadan, ARLT SIG

This blog was originally posted on 27th March 2024 on Dr Teeroumanee Nadan’s blog

I provide in this blog post a brief summary of the panel discussion and additional links for you to read, including previous ARLT SIG events related to the topic. This is a really short summary, I highly recommend watching the recording which is available at the end of this blog post.

Summary of Question & Answer

Q1. How did you happen into the DEI research/ How & Why did you start your journey into DEI research

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I shared my experience working with disability, women empowerment, internationalisation and antiracism – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Dr Emanuela Girei: Shared her work around gender issues in Italy. In the UK she worked with Race Equality Network in the housing sector, then worked with asylum seekers before moving to Uganda and then into academia in the UK.

Q2. Are there any specific challenges you faced/currently face in your research into DEI? Or at a personal level while researching into DEI?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: At a research level, collaboration can be challenging, you need to pick carefully who you collaborate with. At a personal level, there are challenges whenever you present different perspectives. At at institutional, sectorial and societal level, I highlighted the need to understand what DEI means, and what actions can boycott DEI – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Dr Emanuela Girei: She highlighted how working on DEI is a never ending job, there might be many steps forward and steps backward. DEI is a field where there is joy but also lots of grief and fear. Emanuela highlighted how doing decolonisation work as a White person is an uncomfortable work that helps her to self-reflect on her role.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: She pointed out the emotional labour of DEI and the lens DEI is being looked from. There are people who work around DEI for career advancement as it is very in vogue at the moment. She mentioned that it is still difficult to access funding, and there can also be imposter syndrome when doing research. Iwi highlighted how it is important to find your tribe of people with similar experiences and to learn to become tactical.

Q3. How have you gone about generating impact from your DEI research?

Dr Emanuela Girei: It depends what we mean by impact. DEI work is a collective effort. Emanuela highlighted that she creates impact by embedding DEI in the way she conducts research work itself.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: She recognises the importance of evaluation, dissemination and telling the story, and the importance to collate evidence of difference, quality and experience.

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I focus on going in depth, and then create a wave that creates subsequent waves. I highlighted that it is impossible to assess DEI on short-term impact. I do not sugar coat facts which is much appreciated by some people, and I have also taken the creative approach, writing poems around discrimination – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Q4. Of all your research activities/projects/publications/, which one is the most fulfilling for you? Why?

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green:Accomplished Study Programme in Research Excellence (ASPIRE) programme which addresses issues Black people face in doctoral studies. She later left for several of reasons – because it was harmful and there was appropriation of work. Nonetheless, she is glad to have done it.

Dr Emanuela Girei: 1) Apply for a PhD scholarship for int’l students. 2) Paper about whiteness and colonisation helped Emanuela to address some key question she had in her mind for a long time.

Check out the paper “Developing Decolonial Reflexivity: Decolonizing Management Education by Confronting White-skin, White Identities and Whiteness“.

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: 1) Tech-related: Application of internationalisation on assessment and learning technologies. 2) Non-tech: Free impact mentoring of marginalised students and staff in Africa & Asia – Read more about my response on from my blog.

Q5. Question 5 (Two parts): Challenges of researching antiracism and the intersection between antiracism and learning technology, and advise for anyone wanting to start their journey into antiracism and/or DEI research?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I highlighted the less commonly spoken issues: 1) Understanding the design and development process of technology. 2) Understanding were your platform comes from and its impact. 3) Is your platform inclusive? I have included further details and examples about this on my blog space.

I highlighted 3 areas: 1) Researchers come into DEI for various reasons 2) Researchers have their own biases. 3) If you fail, get back up and take another route. I have included further details and examples about this on my blog space.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: People do not like to talk about racism and people do not like to sit with their discomfort. People have a hard time understanding what equity is. AI can open opportunities but can also be a barrier.

Be mindful to protect yourself, find a network, find your tribe, and try to find a mentor.

Q6. Touching on White allyship, what will be your advice for any White colleague looking to research into antiracism/allyship?

Dr Emanuela Girei: She invites allies to look at racism and whiteness as social dynamics and structural processes. We are part of a system that awards priviledge and oppression according to the skin colour. You have a role to play – whether you choose it or not – you are part of this dynamic. Emanuela also encourages allies to engage personally in many different ways – e.g. reading, engage in relationship with those who have lived experience different from yours.

Q7. Using a specific example, what does your ideal antiracist institution look like?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I highlighted the need for committment by HEIs, access to capital, consistency by the regulators and commitment from the staff. I also mentioned this cannot be achieved in the UK because of its social fabric – I have included further details about this on my blog space.

Dr Emanuela Girei: An organisation that is able to look at racism within the organisation and they are able to look at it, name it and put in place systems and mechanisms to contrast it – which is different from writing policies and strategies.

Dr Iwi Ugiagbe-Green: Intentionally, explicitly, authentically and consistently addressing racial bias whilst reflecting and actively implementing systemic changes to address it.

Question from the audience

I have included responses during the live session and also also responses that the panelists were invited to contribute offline.

Audience Q1: What is the impact of a non-representative staff group on the student population? Are there any ways to become more representative and open?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: Yes there are many ways to have a representative staff body. However, when we do representation we need to be aware that there is a quota system that is not working in the UK and anywhere else in the World. I also shared an alarming story about a student being bullied by a staff – Check out further details about this on my blog space.

Please refer to my response to Q5 during the panel discussion and I also provided many more examples in my prep blog.

Audience Q2: Do you think there are any specific research methods that help you more than others or is it just the right tool for the right question – e.g. action research. and if so – what is a good source to learn about this?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: I do use action research a lot wherever applicable but it is limited sometimes to how active all stakeholders are over time as DEI project takes time. The research method really depends on your expected outcome from the DEI project – is it a new policy, policy change, implementation of solutions, etc. So, each project may require different research methods or a mix of approaches.

For example, last year I collaborated on a birth tourism project with a few medical doctors and a solicitor who were pracademics with the outcome being focused on both medical and immigration policy changes. I joined when the ethical approval was already sought, and this limited certain corrective measures. But I implemented few things wherever possible. For example, the research included interviewing women on the medical and immigration aspects of their personal experience with birth tourism – I realised that during initial interviews, there were few interviews where was no female interviewer. I ensured that all subsequent interviews had a female interviewer on board, and this resulted in a completely different conversation where there were times the women were highlighting how unhelpful their spouse or in-laws were and this created a whole new aspect that was not considered in the initial scope of the project.

Audience Q3: In understanding the impact of technology – what do you think is the key thing we should be collectively trying to understand?

Dr Teeroumanee Nadan: That DEI takes time and you need be willing to put in time and effort.

Negative impact is very real, whether we are aware of it or not. The worst impact is sometimes not recorded and do not reach staff. Staff need to be willing to spend the time to become aware of these stories. Sadly, the current HEI climate is about reducing the workforce, which then impedes staff time allocation for 1) going to the ground level and getting to know of the real challenges 2) working on solutions together with those who are affected. I have mentioned several examples in my prep blog to this panel discussion and also previous blogs which I have cross referenced, I have also included a “Further Reading” section at the end of this blog. Happy reading!

Further comments shared by the audience:

There are some comments in the chat space that are worth highlighting:


Further Reading

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