Ableism in Academia: developing institutional approaches to inclusivity
An exploration of the lived experience of ableism in academia.
7 February 2020
This project explored the lived experience of ableism in academia. Through the application of creativity and creation within visual and ethnographic research methods, the project aimed to get closer to participants' feelings and emotions and to provide means of expression for what is difficult to express - such as personal journeys, emotional developments and experiences. This then provided the starting point for the development of action points for UCL and the wiser sector in relation to improving individuals' lived experiences. The activities funded included:
- an internet survey, which yielded over 300 responses within the one month it was online;
- an interactive, creative workshop held at IOE to allow for creative explorations of experiences which was filmed and audio-recorded;
- one-to-one Skype interviews with 20 participants.
Whilst the research data is still being analysed, the project has already created significant tangible outcomes derived from the preliminary analyses. The project team have gained better understanding of what is required to support disabled/chronically ill and neurodiverse individuals in academia. These needs have been communicated to the Provost and relevant members of UCL's EDI teams.
Changes have already been made; for example, there will be an EDI envoy for UCL as well as a revision of the academic careers framework. Additionally, a more strategic focus on EDI policies and guidelines is in the making. The project has also led to publications, presentations, and awards.
Outputs and Impact
- Journal article published in Nature: 'Barriers to entry – How to organize a conference that's open to everyone', Nature, 571, S46-47.
- Presented at Society for Research into Higher Education conference in December 2019.
- The seed project also led to an award of £3k from SRHE to develop an additional strand to the lived experience element of the project.
- Winner of the New Researchers Prize at Society for Research into Higher Education for "Bodies and buildings: how chronically ill and disabled staff experience buildings in academia".
- In 2020, Nicole Brown collaborated with Jennifer Leigh (University of Kent) to publish the open-access book: "Ableism in academia: Theorising experiences of disabilities and chronic illnesses in higher education"
Image credit: Thinkstock