Past Event details

Perspectives on understanding the relationship between Intersectionality and the Student Experience in Higher Education: How might it inform our research and our educational practice?

Friday, 06 July 2018

This half-day event is aimed at those interested in exploring further the important yet regularly contested concept of Intersectionality.

There will be three presentations along with a panel discussion and opportunities for small group-work.

Facilitated by: Dr. Carole Davis, Head of Educational Development at Queen Mary University of London.


Introducing intersectionality – and the impossibility of doing so

Emily F Henderson, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

Intersectionality is a concept that is used to express the ways in which different identity characteristics and social identifiers overlap and affect each other in the production of individuals’ and groups’ experiences. However it is not a concept which can be as clearly and concisely defined as this summary suggests. For the concept intersectionality has a complex origins story, and as such the politics of race, discrimination, and sexism are deeply embedded in each application of the concept – even in cases where these politics remain unacknowledged. This presentation both introduces this concept in its specific nature as a politicized hybrid of theory and methodology, and also introduces the contestations that surround this controversial but necessary concept. The presentation speaks to the use of intersectionality in the higher education research field, and lays the foundations for the presentations to follow.


Practicing Intersectionality in Higher Education: Lessons learnt from applying intersectionality in childhood studies

Dr Kristina Konstantoni, University of Edinburgh

Intersectionality has currently seen a rise in popularity across a range of social science disciplines, as both a theory and a praxis. As intersectionality travels and is applied in various fields and disciplines it is important to consider the politics of intersectionality, as its application is neither a straightforward nor an unproblematic process.  In this presentation, drawing on my experience as a childhood researcher who has sought to apply the framework of intersectionality within the childhood studies field, I will discuss the relevant lessons learnt. Furthermore, by making links to my own academic professional experience in higher education, the presentation will address the challenges and potentials of practicing intersectionality in higher education.


Inequalities of Access: intersectional barriers to higher education in the Indian and the International context

Anjali Thomas, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

Higher Education is universally perceived as a significant means through which societies can enhance development and address social inequalities. Access to higher education and the social barriers which hinder entry of students into post-secondary higher education is therefore a global concern, even in developed countries (USA, Canada UK, France, Australia etc).

This presentation will be a discussion on the concept and conceptualisation of access to Higher Education. The first section will explore how access has been conceptualised and measured, and how this concept has identified different kinds of intersecting barriers or inequalities in the Global North and Global South (for example, Reay et al 2005, Burke 2011, Mullen 2014, Brinbaum and Guegnard 2013).  A majority of research studies across the world identify social class background, gender and race or ethnicity as some of the most significant barriers experienced by students attempting to enter different kinds of higher education institutions.

The second section of this paper will compare this body of work across different international contexts with research in India on access to higher education (for example, Thorat and Khan 2018, Sudarshan 2018, Gautam 2015). The objective of this comparison is to examine how the different Global and Indian conceptualisations of access have been able to effectively study significant social barriers like gender, caste and social class background in the specific context of India. This would help develop a more refined conceptualisation of access and in turn help develop an appropriate research design to study access to higher education in India.


Biographical Statements

Emily F. Henderson joined the University of Warwick in December 2015 as Assistant Professor of International Education and Development and course leader of MA Global Education and International Development. Prior to this she completed an ESRC PhD studentship at UCL Institute of Education. She is co-convenor of SRHE International Research and Researchers Network and founder and co-convenor of AMIN – Academic Mobilities and Immobilities Network at Warwick. She is author of Gender Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning and Tracing Gender in Higher Education (Palgrave, 2015) and co-editor of Starting with Gender in International Higher Education Research (Routledge, forthcoming). Emily is co-editor of the academic blog Conference Inference: Blogging the World of Conferences, which was launched in 2017. Emily’s research lies in the areas of gender and higher education, particularly the production of knowledge about gender; the academic profession, academic mobility and conferences; poststructuralist and feminist theory and research methodology.

Dr Kristina Konstantoni is Lecturer in Childhood Studies, Co-Director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland and an Associate researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR). Kristina was the Programme Director of the BA Childhood Practice for five years.  Kristina is a sociologist of childhood and education, and holds an MSc in Childhood Studies.  Kristina has worked in early years centres in Scotland and in Greece, in third sector children’s organizations and community centres. Kristina’s research focuses on children’s and youth experiences of intersecting inequalities; children’s rights in humanitarian crises (austerity and refugee crises); children’s peer relationships and educators’ social justice pedagogies. She has been involved in a range of research and knowledge exchange projects linked to children and young people’s intersecting identities, inequalities, participation and rights.  She has published widely in the field of childhood studies and children’s rights. She has been Awarded a College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Recognition award 2016  for ‘Excellence in External Engagement’ and was commissioned Research to Review the benchmark Standard for Childhood Practice in 2015 and produce a revised national policy document which governs the practice of all childhood practitioners in Scotland (Standard for Childhood Practice 2015 Revised). She is the member of and has provided consultancy as part of the Scottish Equalities in Youth Work Steering Group, the European Family Support Network and others.

Anjali Thomas is a PhD student at the Centre for Education Studies at University of Warwick. Her PhD is being funded by the Fair Chance Foundation and the University of Warwick. Her PhD research will inform the Fair Chance for Education Project on Gendered Pathways to Educational Success in Haryana, India. This is a five-year action research project that seeks to determine the gendered factors that contribute to educational success for young people in Haryana, India.

Anjali is a graduate of English Literature (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi) and has a Masters in Social Work (University of Delhi). She also has an M.Phil. Degree in Social Sciences (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) through which she studied the narratives and experiences of caste-based social discrimination and prejudices among undergraduate students in a college in Delhi University, India.

In the past, she has worked with CORD (Collaborative Research and Dissemination) and ICRW (International Centre for Research on Women) on a qualitative research project in Haryana, India. The project evaluated how a long term conditional cash transfer social scheme might have changed the value of the girl child within the families and societies in Haryana.


1200 - 1300       Registration and light lunch

1300 - 1310       Welcome and introduction to the SRHE Student Experience Network

1310 – 1340     
Introducing intersectionality – and the impossibility of doing so

Emily F Henderson, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

1340 – 1410      Practicing Intersectionality in Higher Education: Lessons learnt from applying intersectionality in childhood studies

Dr Kristina Konstantoni, University of Edinburgh

1410 – 1440      Inequalities of Access: intersectional barriers to higher education in the Indian and the International context

Anjali Thomas, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick

1440 – 1500      Panel discussion

1500 – 1540      Small group discussion

1540 – 1550      Feedback from small groups

1550 – 1555      Closing words from Carole Davis

1555 - 1600       Evaluation

1600                   Farewell and depart


Network: Student Experience
Date(s): Friday, 06 July 2018
Times: 12:00 - 16:00
Location: SRHE, 73 Collier St, London N1 9BE
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