Connectivity and Inclusivity In Higher Education- A solutions’ based approach

Activity: Participating in or organising event(s)Organising a conference, workshop, exhibition, performance, inquiry, course etcResearch

Description

Connectivity is the antidote for fragmentation. This theme runs through the workshops undertaken and therefore this report. It emphasises that there is fragmentation, siloing and disconnection between operations, departments, projects, and between institutions and the people within. The C&I project aimed to pilot the practice of operationalising and highlighting the need for connectivity and inclusivity in human interactions, which are so essential for growth and development. While EDIA is a concept that is known by audiences but we want to make the point that the individual concepts of equality, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility can be explained through connectivity in ecology. In this project and in this report, we aimed to understand what EDIA meant to participants and to reveal gaps in practice, knowledge, understanding, interpretation, policy, etc. While we have equality and inclusivity as part of the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), we have shown through this project that gaps can be filled if people, institutions, and units are more connected and inclusive.

The project was funded by an award received from the National Environmental Research Council for Engaging Environments (https://www.engagingenvironments.org/), the University of Manchester, Faculty of Science and Engineering, EDI Directorate and Wellcome EDI.

The university of Manchester was used as a case study to explore the importance of connectivity and inclusivity in higher education. The research was carried out through three workshops delivered in 2022 and 2023.

This innovative study explored the challenges and barriers to connectivity and inclusivity by using the Principles Focussed Evaluation Methods and ecological connectivity in nature’s ecosystem as foundation for knowledge and aligned these with the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development including- reduced inequalities (goal 10), peace, justice and strong institutions (goal 16) and partnership for the goals (17). How do we reduce inequality through our teaching, learning, research and operations in the HE institutions? Are there benefits in working in partnerships rather than in silos? How can we build a strong institution through effective connectivity and inclusivity?

These principles and questions were tested among participants and key presenters before, during and after the workshops through intense interviews and knowledge exchange sessions. The workshop explored the integration of ecological connectivity and how this could be implemented between or within people working, studying or carrying out research or visitors to the HE institutions.

While participants signed up for a ‘call to action’ so that they could further explore the issues foregrounded by the workshops, the findings of this study were presented to UoM’s Senior Leadership Team in 2022 to demonstrate how connectivity and inclusivity outcomes are linked with university and EDIA strategies.

The key applications were presented to participants at the 2023 workshop (See (https://www.meri.manchester.ac.uk/wies/connect/events/) and through open access resources: https://www.meri.manchester.ac.uk/wies/research/resources/).

The report also provides readers with a C&I toolkit to support those interested in exploring questions of connectivity and inclusivity at their own institutions. The toolkit includes tips for hosting future workshops, possible themes for knowledge exchange sessions, and a reflection exercise.

Over 120 participants attended the workshop from 30 institutions within and outside of the UK and, the open access resources are accessed from more than 130 cities globally.
Period2022 → …
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational