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Race equality expert to share leading work on anti-racist practice in Higher Education

Race equality expert to share leading work on anti-racist practice in Higher Education

Syra Shakir, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching and the Strategic Lead on Race Equality at Leeds Trinity University will join a keynote conversation on anti-racist practice at the Advance Higher Education (HE) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) conference in Liverpool on Thursday 7 March.

Syra Shakir is a leading voice for equality, diversity and inclusion at Leeds Trinity University. She is a qualified social worker with children and families and her background is in professional, front-line practice with communities for over 18 years. She has also worked as an Independent Reviewing Officer for children in care, in youth work and in the probation service. Syra’s passion is in challenging racial disparities and supporting people to be the best they can be. She lives in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Syra is firmly established within the Office for Institutional Equity and working to address the awarding gap and implement race equality in the curriculum, through student co-creation. Student co-creation is a collaborative model increasingly implemented by Higher Education institutions, which sees student input as a core element in shaping the curriculum, institutional policy, student experience, and equality, diversity and inclusion practices.

The keynote conversation at the Advance HE Conference will bring together leading experts across the country to discuss belonging and inclusion in Higher Education. Syra Shakir will be joined by Professor Zainab Khan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at Royal Holloway, University of London, Márjory Da Costa-Abreu, Senior Lecturer in Computing at Sheffield Hallam University and Professor Damien Page, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Buckinghamshire New University.

Syra Shakir, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching at Leeds Trinity University said:

“If we want to devise effective interventions to tackle racial disparities of the awarding gap, continuation, progression, retention and graduate outcomes, we need to listen and respond to those experiencing this wicked problem, our students. We must dismantle the traditional power dynamics that exist in higher education between staff and students and nurture these relationships to harness student wisdom to inform our actions. As Malik El Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) told us, ‘’Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’’”

As Strategic Lead on Race Equality at Leeds Trinity University, Syra Shakir led the development of an award-winning anti-racist toolkit alongside Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching and filmmaker Ricardo Barker. The toolkit sits alongside the Re:Tension film which has been deemed a useful educational tool for equality and diversity by Advance HE. The toolkit and film won the Diversity and Inclusion Award at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2021 and has been used by universities across the country.

Dr Tamsin Bowers-Brown, Director of the Office for Institutional Equity at Leeds Trinity University, said:

“Syra Shakir is key to the race equity work of Leeds Trinity University; her work with both colleagues and students to address inequity has been transformative. Leading the Our Community, Our Belonging co-creation work with students, Syra has devised a strong way of supporting students to work with colleagues across the institution to demonstrate the power of the student lived experience in issues of equity and of injustice. 

“Syra has led the development of an anti-racist toolkit which sits alongside the Re:Tension film, creating an acclaimed approach to anti-racist practice across the sector. Syra’s approach is intellectual, practical and works to engage people from all different walks of life. I anticipate her keynote at the Advance HE EDI conference will be very well received and will stimulate thought-provoking discussion.”

To find out more about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Leeds Trinity University and read about the values, actions and the Equity, Social Justice and Belonging Strategy in place at the University, visit the website.

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