What inspired us to write Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnerships?

Alise: I suppose it’s most honest to say I found my way to the book through loneliness as a Mad/disabled/queer graduate student, and that it was these experiences that inspired me to contribute. It was epistemic loneliness that prompted me to apply for a student partnership role with Beth, and which contributed to my analysis in our team’s previously authored paper on epistemic confidence. The Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnerships book was an opportunity to expand this thinking beyond the states of loneliness and confidence to a wider range of examples of violences and harms equity-seeking students face in postsecondary education and to a broader and more nuanced analysis of how partnership may play a role in redressing them.

Alison: Beth and I had been talking for years about wanting to write together about partnership and equity. Her work with Alise and mine with Leslie converged in co-authoring a chapter focused on one aspect of the framework we explore in this book—epistemic justice. In that chapter we explored how pedagogical partnerships can facilitate epistemological forms of equity and inclusion by creating more equitable conceptions of knowing and knowledge that open possibilities for fostering students’ confidence in their knowledge and willingness to share it with others.

Beth: Alise introduced me to some of the theoretical concepts we explore in the book when they were a graduate student, and I was eager to think, following Alise’s lead, about the ways in which these ideas might help me better understand and enact the pedagogical partnership work in which I was involved. Collaborating with Alise, Alison, and Leslie on the chapter Alison mentions only further cemented this desire! This book project thus offered an exciting opportunity to continue learning and thinking alongside a group of amazing collaborators while also contributing to a growing conversation about the potential relationships between pedagogical partnership and equity in postsecondary institutions.

Leslie: As an undergraduate student still getting immersed into research, when Alison opened up the possibility of me joining a book project, I immediately said yes as I realized the invaluable experience it would offer me as an aspiring professor. Especially as a scholar dedicated to equity within higher education, expanding on the possibilities of justice through pedagogical partnership seemed like a natural next step. And of course, working with this great team was another amazing incentive to join this book project!

What did each of us bring to the book?

Beth: Mainly, I think I brought an interest in thinking further about the possibilities and potential limitations of partnership work in relation to questions of equity and justice. In my previous work participating in partnerships, overseeing McMaster’s Student Partners Program, and researching partnership, I had seen first-hand the value and significance of this work, but also learned about and experienced potential drawbacks that felt important to explore in a sustained way.

Alise: I brought a number of different experiences of partnership to the book—work as a student, staff, instructor, and service user partner in pedagogical partnerships; work as a disabled/queer community member and university representative on community-university partnerships; and partnership work within and across social movement groups. I also came with experiences in disabled student and service-user led initiatives that focused on peer-based partnerships. Not surprisingly, these varied experiences have resulted in many complex questions around partnership and its potential value that accompanied me throughout the development of the book.

Leslie: After engaging in two pedagogical partnerships and a research partnership with Alison, bringing in the student perspective was an essential role I took up. Experiencing partnership first-hand helped me think about the contributions our theoretical framework could make to improving the student experience within partnership. These experiences contributed to my understanding of the potential (and limitations) of pedagogical partnerships and research. Additionally, experiences as a former student leader at Haverford College who was in constant communication with both students and faculty were essential in how I saw this theoretical framework and innovative way of thinking about partnership contributing back to the people I worked with as well as other campus leaders around the world.

Alison: My work for equity and justice has taken several forms at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, all of which influence what I brought to this book project. Specifically, I created Students as Learners and Teachers (SaLT) program in 2006 as part of a larger project to build civic capacity on campus through radical forms of partnership. In the summer of 2020, student partners in SaLT and at other colleges generated a set of recommendations for humane, equitable practices under pandemic conditions, and this work has been expanded and sustained through weekly, student-led, cross-constituency, multi-college conversations about Anti-racist Pedagogies, Trauma-informed, Anti-racist Teaching and Learning in Hybrid and Remote Contexts, and Equity in Assessment. The framework we offer in this book can be adapted or revised to support the development of similar efforts in different contexts. 

How do principles from this book continue to inform our current work and roles beyond what we discuss in the book itself?

Leslie: Working on this book has been central to my development as an emerging educational researcher. Currently, I am working on a new project with my faculty adviser on the contributions of faculty of color to academia and using epistemic justice as a launching pad. The book’s theoretical framework, though it focuses on pedagogical partnership, can reach research outside of the partnership scope. On a more personal level, co-authoring this book has given me new language that I can use to describe both my own experiences and the experiences that students from marginalized backgrounds face as they navigate an unjust higher education system. Working on this book gives me hope in the potential of higher education programming to redress harm and orient the institution toward a justice framework.

Alison: As I work toward equity and inclusion in STEM, to challenge and change institutional structures that perpetuate violence and harm through the courses I teach at Bryn Mawr and Haverford College, and use my scholarship to raise awareness and inspire action, the framework we offer in the book and the experience of co-authoring with Alise, Beth, and Leslie, have clarified my thinking and emboldened me. As this work intersected with a student-led strike for racial justice at Haverford followed by a student-led strike for racial justice at Bryn Mawr, I have asked students to co-author contributions I have been invited to make to edited collections with the goal of making visible, affirming, and supporting student-led equity efforts, as this book itself, in many ways, also is.

Alise: I think the most significant change that occurred for me over writing the book was that I was moving out of a student role and into an ambiguous postdoctoral fellow position. I now more directly relate to and wonder about the questions that Beth asks in the book about what our framework means for faculty/staff from equity-seeking groups. Working with disabled students on several projects about the contributions of disabled students’ organizing to teaching and learning is energizing and fun, but also unsettling (in ways it didn’t used to be) as I grapple with what it means to be a disabled “staff” on this project. I also write in the book about the importance of supporting student-led initiatives alongside and sometimes instead of partnership, which looks a lot different in my staff life than it did when I was a student. I appreciate how the ideas in the book can evolve with us as we move through different identities, roles, and positions in relation to advancing equity and justice through pedagogical partnership. 

Beth: Alise’s and Leslie’s comments about thinking about the ideas developed in this book as one moves through different roles really resonate with me as well. Since we finished the manuscript, I have transitioned out of my role at McMaster’s central teaching and learning unit and returned to a “regular” faculty position at the university. While I hope to continue thinking with and through some of the terms of this book in my own teaching and research activities, I’m also inspired to reflect on them as we work, in one of the departments with which I am affiliated, to develop and launch a new academic program that focuses substantially on equity and justice.

Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnership is available through the Series on Engaged Learning and Teaching from Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning and Stylus Publishing. You can learn more about the book at: https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/books/promoting-equity-and-justice-through-pedagogical-partnership/.

Alise de Bie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, McMaster University.

Elizabeth Marquis is Associate Professor, Arts & Science Program and School of the Arts, McMaster University.

Alison Cook-Sather is Mary Katharine Woodworth Professor of Education, Bryn Mawr College, and Director, Teaching and Learning Institute, Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.

Leslie Patricia Luqueño is a doctoral student at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, specializing in the Sociology of Education.

How to Cite this Post

de Bie, Alise, Elizabeth Marquis, Alison Cook-Sather, and Leslie Patricia Luqueño. 2021, July 12. “Self-Interview with the Authors of Promoting Equity and Justice through Pedagogical Partnerships” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/self-interview-with-the-authors-of-promoting-equity-and-justice-through-pedagogical-partnerships.