Engaged Teaching, Feminist Activism and Academia

‘The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.’ – bell hooks

‘I teach because I search, because I question, and because I submit myself to questioning.’ – Paulo Freire

Panel discussion organised by Critical Pedagogies: Equality and Diversity in a Changing Institution
Date and Time: 16 June 2014, 4-6pm
Location: Room G.02, 19 George Square, University of Edinburgh

The classroom frequently functions as a microcosm of social relations and hierarchies. As learners and teachers, our actions, race, gender, ability and other intersections co-create the classroom as a space of dialogue, mutuality and different tensions and conflicts. For these reasons, teaching is never neutral; the classroom is an ideologically charged space offering possibilities of political engagement, reflection and challenging of power structures.

This panel discussion engages with the following issues:

  • How do we learn and teach as feminist academics and activists?
  • How do we position ourselves in relation to our own implication in power structures which place us in positions of privilege or disadvantage?
  • What are the risks of assuming a neutral ‘critical stance’ in our learning and teaching?
  • What are the benefits and risks involved in politically engaged teaching?
  • How does our own ideological stance influence and inform our learning and teaching practice?
  • How do we mediate ideological / cultural disagreements in the classroom?
  • How do we create and foster a ‘feminist classroom’ both within and beyond traditional learning and teaching environments?

The panel discussion will begin with short position statements by the panelists, followed by a discussion and participant questions. We imagine this as a dialogic, inclusive and informal space where we can exchange ideas and experiences!


  • Akwugo Emejulu (Lecturer in Education, Community and Society, University of Edinburgh)
  • Michelle Keown (Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial writing, University of Edinburgh)
  • Justine Seran (PhD candidate in English Literature, University of Edinburgh)
  • Talat Yaqoob (Campaigner and feminist writer)
  • Adele Patrick (Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, Glasgow Women’s Library)

Suggested readings:

In order to frame our discussion on engaged teaching, feminist activism and academia, we would like to warmly recommend the following (voluntary) preparatory readings [sources linked]:

Maria do Mar Pereira: ‘Uncomfortable classrooms: Rethinking the role of student discomfort in feminist teaching.’ European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2012.

Sara Ahmed: ‘Critical Racism / Critical Sexism.’ Feminist Killjoys. 19 December 2013.

Stephanie Spoto – The Anxiety of Political Influence.
[Paper given at Critical Pedagogies: Equality and Diversity in a Changing Institution Symposium, University of Edinburgh, 2013.]

Shaunga Tagore – A slam on feminism in academia
[from Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, ed. Jessica Yee, 2011]

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any difficulties in accessing these articles!

Provisional schedule:

4.00-4.10 – Introduction and presenter announcement
4.10-4.50 – Position statements from panelists
4.50- 5.20 – Discussion amongst panelists
5.20-6.00 – Questions and discussion amongst delegates
6.00-7.00 – Wine reception


This event is free and open to all! However, please note that spaces might be limited due to the event location so if you are interested in attending, we kindly ask you to email the facilitators Lena Wånggren (lena.wanggren@ed.ac.uk) and Maja Milatovic (maja.milatovic@ed.ac.uk) to sign up / confirm your attendance!

We look forward to seeing you there!
In solidarity,
Lena and Maja

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One Response to Engaged Teaching, Feminist Activism and Academia

  1. Pingback: Engaged Teaching, Feminist Activism and Academia | Changing Relations

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