Chapter 3: Unlearning Hierarchies and Striving for Relational Diversity

Rachel Guitman, Anita Acai, and Lucy Mercer-Mapstone

Read the chapter [PDF]

Student-staff partnership is a growing field within higher education. As a theory and practice aimed at more equitable power sharing between students and staff, it is often underpinned by a desire to redress inequities in the academy. As feminists, women, and students engaging in partnership, we saw connections between feminism and equity in the partnership field. This manifesto lays out aspirational goals we hold for the field of partnership, setting agendas and making calls to action based on concepts drawn and adapted from feminist theorists, namely, the process of unlearning hierarchy and a need to more deeply embrace relational diversity.

Reflection Questions for Readers

  • What practices have you found to contribute to the more equitable distribution of power in higher education relationships? How might these practices contribute to enhancing relational diversity in your context?
  • Do you have relationships which give you nourishment? How might you grow or develop those to support relational diversity?
  • What emotions does the notion of “unlearning hierarchy” evoke for you, and why?
  • What first steps could you take to ensure that power dynamics and histories are critically examined in your new or existing partnerships?

Lucy Mercer-Mapstone, Rachel Guitman, and Anita Acai, smiling with mountains and water in the background