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Interrogating the sector-wide challenge of racial inequality

24 Oct 2019 | Advance HE Advance HE is pleased to announce the provocation for Preparing for Senior Strategic Leadership 32 (PSSL32) and the confirmed provocateurs.

Preparing for Senior Strategic Leadership (PSSL) will include a challenge workshop in which a provocation question is posed for participants to explore. The provocation in this upcoming programme will aim to answer the question  - What has been the role of universities in perpetuating structures of racial inequality in UK society, and how could they help support the move to a non-racist society? 

The provocation is particularly relevant in light of recent the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into racial harassment in higher education. Confirmed provocateurs, who will support the discussion for PSSL 32 are Gary Loke, Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE, Shân Wareing, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Northampton, and Professor Osama Khan, Associate Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Surrey, who will be a provocateur in addition to being a Leadership Story Speaker on Module 1. In response to the EHRC report findings Gary Loke commented,

“Through our experience at the Equality Challenge Unit (now part of Advance HE), we know that limited understanding and a lack of confidence in talking about racial harassment are barriers to effective practice and processes in supporting staff and student victims. The sector knows this has to change and the report points to the importance of leadership in tackling racial harassment of staff and students head on.”

PSSL is a four-day programme run by Doug Parkin and Rebecca Nestor which provides a unique opportunity for new and aspiring senior university leaders to explore and develop their leadership identity. Participants on PSSL are university managers and leaders who are considering moving from departmental leadership roles to a more strategic role such as Dean.  The group includes both academic and professional service colleagues.

Doug Parkin, Advance HE Principal Adviser for Leadership and Management and co-director of PSSL, said

“Complex, messy and wicked problems are the staple diet of today's senior organisational leader, and how to use collaborative inquiry to address this complexity is a challenging and sophisticated skill to develop.  The challenge workshop is one of the key elements of PSSL that has this as its specific focus.  It involves three or four provocateurs speaking passionately about a sector-wide challenge and then an unfolding inquiry process during which the course participants get to engage both with the topic and the speakers.

Each iteration of PSSL has a different focus area for the challenge workshop.  For PSSL32 this year the sector-wide challenge is racial inequality.  The 'big' question that participants will get to explore will be supported by three excellent provocateurs. If we reflect that it has been over half a century since the first piece of anti-discrimination legislation in the UK, the Race Relations Act (1965), it is sobering to think that there are still just a very small number of black and ethnic minority university leaders in the sector.”

Gary Loke, Advance HE Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery, said

“While the challenge workshop is about developing participants’ leadership identity, it is also a unique opportunity to lead on and interrogate a wicked and sticky issue. I look forward to hearing the insights of my fellow provocateurs and the thoughts of the participants.”

Bookings for Preparing for Senior Strategic Leadership 32 are open now.


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