The AHE EDI Conference 2024 will provide space to rethink and refresh our approaches to equality, diversity and inclusion, share our successes, and contribute to a collective discussion about how we are shaping the future of EDI in higher education across the globe by thinking about what we are doing and need to embed in our practice now.
Constant change is a reality of higher education, and our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion needs to keep pace with this change. Evolving new practice to tackle emerging issues, continuing to create innovative solutions to perennial problems, anticipating developments that will affect the nature of our student and staff communities is our constant goal.
The challenges facing HE are varied and complex, and no single approach to tackling them will suit the diversity of institutions in the sector. Curiosity about the wide range of thinking and practice that might inform our approaches, openness to listening to others (other institutions, other countries, other sectors), an engagement with what we learn from marginalised voices and experiences, and collaboration with EDI practitioners from across HE are the tools that will equip us to craft EDI solutions that are relevant, effective and sustainable.
With a focus on exploring these questions, this conference offers:
- An opportunity to think deeply and creatively about how we can build our learning on equity, diversity and inclusion to draw on the widest range of thinking and practice, including marginalised voices, new ways of learning, and learning from outside of higher education.
- A chance to share what we are doing to disrupt traditional understanding of scholarship and scholars/expertise and experts, and to challenge structures and processes that limit career opportunities.
- A platform to share new ideas that will stimulate our thinking about equity, diversity and inclusion – inviting people to share our insights, as well as learning from those who do likewise.
The conference will have the following sub-themes and contributors will be asked to identify which sub-theme their submission supports:
1. Responding to the changing nature of student and staff populations. Could include a focus on particular student/staff groups, trends in relation to international students, developments in staffing (employment practices, skills shortages etc.). Most importantly, how are those are most affected by inequity experiencing our inclusion efforts? We particularly welcome student voices, and those with marginalised identities doing research in their field.
2. Creative approaches to enduring challenges. An opportunity to explore the latest thinking/practice on tackling issues including awarding gaps; under-representation; unacceptable behaviour; gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
3. Learning from beyond HE. Examples of innovative EDI practice from outside the sector.
4. The EDI practitioner skillset. What are the attributes of an effective EDI practitioner? How are we/can we develop the knowledge, skills and understanding that are needed to lead EDI in HE either from a strategic or an operational perspective? As a core area for growth, what are the current models of and approaches to leadership development that will provide emergent leaders with the skillset to make progressive change. Potential submissions can also consider development for specific staff groups, and building particular skills (for example strategic approaches to Freedom of Speech issues).
5. Thinking forward. What are the emerging issues? Where is innovative practice breaking new ground? Where do we want to go from here and what do we need to do to make progress, or identify new priorities? How are we as EDI practitioners evolving?
About the conference
The conference will run across two days with an optional evening dinner and entertainment on the evening of the 6 March. Delegates can attend the full conference or choose the one day that resonates most with their work, experiences or requirements.
This is a conference that anyone serious about matters of Inclusivity, Equity and Diversity, should attend. It really is a box of delights with something for everyone to take away.
Dr Barbara Howard-Hunt
Senior Lecturer Inclusivity Hub, Birmingham City University