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Courage and compassion in the pedagogic borderlands

September 3, 2021 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm


  • Helen Walkington (Oxforrd Brookes University)
  • Jenny Hill (University of the West of England, Bristol)
  • Sarah Dyer (University of Exeter)


This workshop on courageous and compassionate pedagogy is designed to link some of the papers in the ‘Teaching and Learning in Geography: inspiring courage and compassion in the pedagogic borderlands’ to your own practice and department. It offers an opportunity to reflect on your own context and teaching practices and to learn from others.

The arguments about the challenges we face as educators, working in massified and marketised higher education systems, are well rehearsed. Equally so are the challenges facing our students as they navigate higher education and contemplate their lives in an uncertain world beset by environmental dynamism and social inequality. In this session, we are interested in exploring courageous (Gibbs, 2017) and compassionate (Vandeyar, 2013) pedagogies. These pedagogies both invite and support students to enter pedagogic borderlands (Hill et al., 2016), unfamiliar physical or metaphorical spaces whose novelty and ambiguity challenge faculty and students to disrupt taken for granted ways of knowing, acknowledge new perspectives, and disrupt dynamics of power and authority. Courageous and compassionate pedagogies undertaken in borderland spaces of learning acknowledge students and faculty as whole people with lived embodied experiences and emotional, moral, as well as cognitive agendas. These pedagogies link to the notion of slow scholarship (Mountz et al., 2015), which acknowledges the quality of relationships, thinking through ideas and recognising the importance of subjectivities. Working in this way provides opportunities for learning and teaching that is meaningful for students, faculty, and external partners. Acknowledging ourselves as ‘whole’ people requires a willingness to explore and share excitement, insight and passion, alongside vulnerability and fear.

In the workshop we will share our moral ‘compasses’ in exploring the values we bring to our pedagogy and facilitate our ‘mapping’ of the pedagogic borders. We wholeheartedly believe in the importance of collegiality and taking time to reflect and strategise. We will be doing all three. Our hope is that we all leave the workshop with a renewed sense of possibility and an expanded network of colleagues.