Hi! I’m Robynne and I’ll be the BILT student fellow for the ‘Designed for All’ Assessment Activities theme. I’m currently a PhD researcher at the School for Sociology, Politics, and International Studies studying (broadly speaking) health security in post-apartheid South Africa, where I am originally from despite having grown up in Bristol.
My interest in inclusive pedagogies stems from my own educational experience: both as a secondary pupil but also as someone that entered higher education as a ‘non-traditional’ type of student. Having left school after my GCSEs to work in the health and social care sector, I decided to re-enter education in 2017 as a young mum. I took an Access to Higher Education course (with a biomedical sciences focus) at college and through a curious turn of events ended up at the University of Bristol studying for a BSc Politics and International Relations! Having now been at the University of Bristol for so many years, it has been interesting to see how the assessment structure in my school, SPAIS, has evolved in response to both student voice and shifts in theory and practice at the national level. This fills me with confidence that despite the short period of this fellowship, my colleagues and I will be able to impact wider practice within the institution in some shape or form.
Inclusivity has been an integral aspect to my work across different roles within the University. As an undergraduate I was part of a student-led review of the curriculum at SPAIS as part of a decolonisation initiative. We systematically analysed the content of all UG and PGT taught units held by the school, looking at aspects such as the percentage of scholars from the Global South on the reading list and the scope of decolonial theories and perspectives that were being integrated into the content of units.
I have also helped launch the Bristol Social Science Review (BSSR) in 2020, which since then has gone onto publish three volumes and fourteen issues. One of the key values which I brought to my work in developing the journal, first as a member of the Editorial Board and then as Research Director, was inclusion. Academic research operates with a ‘hidden curriculum’ that acts as a barrier to participation for many. BSSR was intended to be a space where students of all levels, backgrounds, and abilities could gain knowledge and experience of the academic publishing industry, with a focus on building core transferable skills and competencies.
Finally, as a Widening Participation tutor I am responsible for delivering workshops and taster sessions to schools around Bristol that have historically low rates of participation in Higher Education. Having also been a widening participation student, I am excited to bring my own experiences and knowledge to this role!
When I’m not working you can usually find me either running marathons or lying horizontal on the sofa with a book and baked goods – there is no in-between. Last of all, I want my role at BILT to be an open and collaborative one. Whether you’re just interested in what I’m doing, want to share your perspective, or you’re working within a similar space and want to collaborate, please get in contact via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or LinkedIn. Hope to hear from you soon!