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Can we create a flourishing higher education environment? (2)

September 1, 2023 @ 11:10 am 12:50 pm

Convenors: Jennifer Hill (University of Gloucestershire) and Harry West (UWE Bristol)

It is widely recognised that higher education environments across the globe are becoming increasingly marketised. This has placed great pressure on students and staff within the sector. A survey carried out by the UK National Union of Students in 2020 revealed that just over half of students (52%) had worse mental health than before the Covid-19 pandemic and they appeared to be more anxious than the general population (NUS 2020). In a Chinese study, 25% of surveyed students experienced anxiety linked to worries about academic delays, the economic effects of the pandemic, and the impact on daily life (Cao et al. 2020). Equally, recent surveys of higher education staff have highlighted significant wellbeing and mental health challenges. In the UK, one study found that 53% of academic and academic-related staff reported probable depression (Wray and Kinman 2021) and in another, conducted during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 47% of academic and professional services staff described their mental health as poor (Dougall et al. 2021).

In this session we wish to debate if and how we might create higher education spaces, systems, processes, curricula and pedagogies that can support the flourishing of students and staff within and across higher education institutions (Vailes 2022).

Contributions might explore the themes below, or consider additional areas of interest. Papers can present results of empirical research or be more reflective in nature.

  • How might university strategies, policies and systems better reflect student and staff wellbeing challenges?
  • How might we recognise and enhance student and staff wellbeing in our curriculum planning, pedagogic practices and assessment processes?
  • How can we build a sense of belonging for a diversity of students in higher education to support positive wellbeing and flourishing?
  • Can further studies into pedagogies of courage, care, compassion, slowness and mattering offer us hope for securing more positive mental wellbeing in higher education?
  • Can hybrid ways of working and learning be used to promote positive wellbeing?
  • How might students and staff work collaboratively to promote positive wellbeing?
  • How can educational developers support staff to embed wellbeing in their curriculum delivery and pedagogic practices?
  • What can we do to generate open discussion and reflection on the wellbeing challenges experienced by staff and students?
  • How can we implement a systemic approach to change within higher education institutions so students can flourish and staff can reduce feelings of pedagogic frailty?

Note: this is the second of a 2-part in-person session. Details for the second part can be found here.

You can find the full list of speakers, titles and abstracts for this event at https://event.fourwaves.com/rgs-ibgac2023/schedule/718af918-4896-4a1b-af44-5ea79263377f

For the full list of GeogEd RGS Annual International conference listings, please visit https://event.fourwaves.com/rgs-ibgac2023/schedule?trackIds=bb7c70fb-f09d-42d8-b13e-4de4ccc7ea3c&date=2023-08-30

September 1, 2023 @ 11:10 am 12:50 pm