Equality, diversity and inclusion: learning from laying our cards on the table (resource showcase)


  • Matthew Sillence University of East Anglia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2588-8603
  • Hanh Doan University of Hertfordshire
  • Amanda Clark University of Hertfordshire




equality, diversity and inclusion, cards, conversation


In this showcase, we presented a card resource for learning developers who work with staff or students to set up an inclusive learning environment. These are often personal interactions and need to be explored respectfully (Love, Gaynor, and Blessett, 2016; Mahmood, Gray and Benincasa, 2022). The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) cards were created by the University of Hertfordshire and comprise 26 topics and illustrations, ranging from ‘belonging’ to ‘trust’, and exist in both a physical and digital format. Resources used as games can encourage participation, reflection, and transformational thinking (Peabody and Noyes, 2017; Clark, Dickerson, and Jarvis, 2022), which are all important for encouraging respectful conversations about EDI issues.

A collaborative project with the University of East Anglia to explore the use of the cards was funded by ALDinHE. Full ethics approval was gained from both universities before beginning. It recruited staff and students at Hertfordshire and East Anglia who worked with EDI issues and gathered reflections from facilitators and participants who used the cards in different learning contexts, such as academic support staff development exercises and student representation workshops. They reported that the card prompts allowed for personal storytelling and they suggested further topics for the cards set.

This session, led by learning developers and teaching staff, explored the idea of the ‘brave space’ (Arao and Clemens, 2013, p. 142; Palfrey, 2017) and why ‘serious play’ is important in learning (Rieber, Smith and Noah, 1998, p. 29). It discussed where and when the cards can be used, in terms of: a physical or digital space; the curriculum or disciplinary context; and the stage of the learner’s journey. The EDI cards and new guidance booklet were made available for delegates to take away.

Author Biographies

Matthew Sillence, University of East Anglia

Matthew Sillence is Associate Professor in Humanities for Postgraduate Education and Training at the University of East Anglia. He works in doctoral education, focusing on the experience of postgraduate researchers and the professional development of academic supervisors.

Hanh Doan, University of Hertfordshire

Hanh Doan is a Student Success and Engagement Adviser (BAME/Equality Champion) in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education at the University of Hertfordshire. She delivers individual, group and class tutorials for academic skills and wellbeing. Hanh is also a Visiting Lecturer and Tutor for Initial Teacher Education.

Amanda Clark, University of Hertfordshire

Amanda Clark is a Student Success and Engagement Senior Advisor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education at the University of Hertfordshire. With a focus on wellbeing for learning, she provides pastoral support and academic skills through individual and group tutorials and whole class seminars.


Arao, B. and Clemens, K. (2013) ‘From safe spaces to brave spaces: a new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice’, in Landreman, L. M. (ed.) The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators. Sterling, VA: Stylus, pp. 135–150.

Clark, A., Dickerson, C., and Jarvis, J. (2022) ‘Creating inclusive learning environments’, LINK (University of Hertfordshire), 6(1). Available at: https://www.herts.ac.uk/link/volume-6,-issue-1,-april-2022/creating-inclusive-learning-environments [Accessed: 9 August 2023]

Love, J. M., Gaynor, T. S. and Blessett, B. (2016) ‘Facilitating difficult dialogues in the classroom: a pedagogical imperative’, Administrative Theory & Praxis, 38(4), pp. 227–233. https://doi.org/10.1080/10841806.2016.1237839

Mahmood, F., Gray, N.A. and Benincasa, K.A. (2021) ‘Facilitating discussions of equity, diversity, and inclusion through an open conversational format: graduate students’ perspectives’, Journal of Chemical Education, 99(1), pp. 268–273. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00407

Palfrey, J. (2017) Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/11245.001.0001

Peabody, M. A. and Noyes, S. (2017) ‘Reflective boot camp: Adapting LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in higher education’, Reflective Practice, 18(2), pp. 232–243. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2016.1268117

Rieber, L. P., Smith, L. and Noah, D. (1998) ‘The value of serious play’, Educational technology, 38(6), pp. 29–37. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44428495

Sillence, M., Clark, A., Dickerson, C., Doan, H. and Jarvis, J. (2023) ‘Equality, diversity and inclusion: learning from laying our cards on the table’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (26). https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.vi26.915




How to Cite

Sillence, M., Doan, H. and Clark, A. (2023) “Equality, diversity and inclusion: learning from laying our cards on the table (resource showcase)”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1115.

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