Critical reflections on the racialised hierarchies of an ethnically diverse staff-student scholarship project team
Keywords:Staff-student collaboration, student-led research, empowerment, exploitation, Black students, racialised hierarchies
This case study article reports on the reflections of the authors who were part of a staff-student collaborative scholarship project investigating the learning experiences of Black distance-learning students. Although there is a growing body of research on the nature, experiences, power dynamics and benefits of staff-student collaborations in higher education contexts, there is much less discussion about how wider racialised hierarchies can influence such collaborations. The project discussed in this article consisted of an ethnically diverse team – including the authors of this piece who are a white male academic staff member and a female PhD student from a Black ethnic background. This case study offers a critically reflective account of the racialised hierarchy inherently present within our relationship. We briefly consider the ways in which the collaborative project was framed by potentially exploitative racialised hierarchies including the privileging of white staff members, before considering how we tried to mitigate these hierarchies by finding ways to involve and empower the ethnic minority student members of the team. These reflections might help those who are embarking upon ethnically diverse staff-student collaborations in higher education to ensure that ethnic minority students feel empowered and to help facilitate their role in promoting institutional change and disrupting exclusionary practice.
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