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Student activism as productive ‘nagging’? Inclusion, free speech and critical spaces for learning.

CHEF-Talk

2021.08.25 | Søren Baltzer Rasmussen

Date Tue 30 Nov
Time 15:00 16:00
Location Online (Zoom)

Time: November  30th, 2021, at 15.00-16.00 Central European Time (CET) 

Place: A Zoom-link will be shared with the participants closer to the event

Register before: 25.11.2021

 

Press here to register for the event

 

 

 

Speaker:

Gritt B. Nielsen is an associate professor, PhD, in educational anthropology at Aarhus University. Her research interests revolve around transformations of the welfare state and universities, in particular shifting notions of democracy and changing forms of student participation, activism and politics. Currently, she is coordinating a comparative ethnographic project on student activism for greater equality and inclusion at universities in the USA, the UK and DK. 

See https://projects.au.dk/fighting-for-equality/

 

Chair:  Dr Søren S.E. Bengtsen, Co-Director of CHEF, Aarhus University, Denmark

 

Abstract:

“We must design our lives and our institutions so that the justice that is compromised remains nagging, in the margin somewhere, in a bracket that does not go away, to pique our souls and goad us into future action“ (Mansbridge 1996, p. 59).

 

In recent years, there has been a marked upsurge in student mobilization to promote social justice and equality at universities in countries like the USA, the UK and Denmark. Students criticize their universities for reproducing norms and practices that systematically marginalise or discriminate against certain bodies and voices in academia. In contrast to the public and sometimes confrontational activism used by students in the USA and the UK, students in Denmark tend to engage in more dialogue-oriented forms of ‘everyday activism’ that are not explicitly connected to (but still resonate with) larger social movements. In this paper, I use the case of student activism in Denmark as a window onto the wider political debates around the relation between academic freedom/free speech and growing efforts to create inclusive educational spaces at Danish universities. I show how international debates around identity politics and free speech as well as institutional practices around reputation management and student participation unfortunately often work to discourage open dialogue around the development of teaching and learning. With inspiration from Mansbridge (1996), I argue that a central task for both students and their institutions is the cultivation of exploratory and critical spaces that can productively ‘nag’ established practices and norms and goad us into future action.

CHEF