Podcast: Inclusive Cultures: What experiences give students a sense of belonging or exclusion? (15 minutes)

Title over group of people

In this episode, Rachel Hunt, a lecturer in Geohumanities, Clare Barnes, an Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Sustainable Livelihoods and Gabrielle King, a research assistant in Geosciences and supporter of widening participation, introduce their research on inclusive culture within the School of Geosciences. This episode accompanies our July-August ‘Hot Topic’: “Lessons from the Learning and Teaching Conference 2021“.

In the final episode of our Learning and Teaching Conference series, Rachel, Claire, and Gabrielle present their ongoing research on inclusive cultures. This involves asking students to reflect on moments of inclusion and exclusion with the aim to use that data to create a more inclusive culture where students from diverse backgrounds thrive and feel a sense of belonging. Rachel, Claire and Gabrielle brilliantly chose to present their data in narrative form, giving the listener an opportunity to hear what they’ve learned through student testimonials of belonging and exclusion.

We decided to present our data creatively in the narrative form. The following story, therefore, takes you across the four years of the University experience through the words of our respondents. These quotes are sensitive, so we would like to draw your attention to that before we come to the story. As you will see, the person’s story we narrate is not a single individual’s story. Their identity and their subjectivity will shift and morph as we go through the story, and the quotes appearing on the slides come directly from our data. We’ve merely threaded them together for narrative effect to show you the various ways that inclusive culture is made, unmade and remade. Pseudonyms are used throughout.

– Rachel, Clare and Gabrielle

In this episode, you’ll hear all about the student experience. There’s a student who felt a divide between private and state school culture and felt uncomfortable working a part-time job next to those that didn’t have to.  One student felt belonging from familiarity with staff names on office doors, while another felt disconnected due to how spread out their school was. Some students found belonging through involvement, while others felt exclusion from being in a minority demographic.  These stories come together to provide a holistic picture of the student experience, while Rachel, Gabrielle and Clare provide recommendations for how their research can inform widening participation interventions.  This episode is an essential listen for anyone hoping to expand their understanding of the modern student experience and the barriers to inclusion!

Listen now: 


2:03 – Eric’s episode-specific introduction

5:40 – Beginning of student testimonials in narrative form

12:35 – Rachel, Clare and Gabrielle’s recommendations on widening participation from their research


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pic of authorRachel Hunt

Rachel Hunt is a lecturer in Geohumanities in the School of Geosciences. Her research interests fall into three areas: cultural geographies of land and landscape, the links between landscape experience and well-being and experiences of education and widening participation. She currently co-leading a Principles Teaching Grant with Clare Barnes focused on inclusive cultures across the undergraduate programmes.   

pic of authorClare Barnes

Clare Barnes is an Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Sustainable Livelihoods in the School of Geosciences. Her current research interest is in forest and landscape governance in the Global South. Clare, like Rachel, is also part of a small group of professional services and academic staff working on issues of Widening Participation in the School. Clare is keen to expand this work into the School’s postgraduate courses in the future.

pic of authorGabrielle King

Gabrielle King spends some of her time working as a research assistant in Geosciences at Edinburgh, supporting the work around widening participation. She finished her PhD in 2021, and now works in research and policy.

Produced and Edited by:

picture of editor/producerEric Berger

Eric is a Mathematics and Statistics student at The University of Edinburgh, and a podcasting intern for Teaching Matters. Eric is passionate about university student mental health, interviewing researchers for the Student Mental Health Research Network at King’s College London, leading the University of Edinburgh’s WellComm Kings Peer Support Scheme, and conducting research on stigma for People With Mental Illnesses (PWMI).  In his free time, he enjoys watching and playing sports, over-analysing hip-hop songs, podcasts, and any sort of wholesome shenanigans.

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