The Equity, Diversity and Social Change specialisation is set to launch next year, and will give postgraduate students the opportunity to study these issues more deeply.
Dr Jessica Gerrard coordinates the specialisation, and says that the timing of its introduction is perfect.
“As far as we know, there isn’t a course like this at the moment, and I think that now is the time, absolutely, to be addressing issues to do with equity and diversity. And we know, for instance that inequality in Australia is deepening, and we also know that inequality in Australia is connected to our education systems. So obviously it’s really important for us to address that.”
Gerrard says the course came about partly as a result of student feedback.
“We know from feedback from students that what they’re really appreciating from the other subjects within the courses is the chance to think deeply and reflect on issues to do with equity, diversity, inclusion, power and privilege, and so we thought this would be a really great chance to provide a full specialisation to give students a real chance to think quite deeply about how policy and practice, how education, schools, higher education, lots of different sectors, impact upon addressing equity and diversity.”
The specialisation will allow students the flexibility to choose how they engage with it, while still ensuring they get a solid grounding in current theory.
“We have a range of core subjects, which are really about engaging with the most up-todate research around issues to do with equity and education, and thinking about which theories and concepts might help us understand our practice and relationship to that,” Gerrard says.
“So we’ve got different core subjects for that, but the great thing about these specialisations, is that they allow a lot of choice, so there’s lots of capacity for students to pick and choose, beyond those core subjects, other subjects that they might be interested in doing ... there’s lots of scope for students to really just choose their own adventure.”
Gerrard emphasises the difficulty of the specialisation’s subject matter, which requires a degree of introspection from students.
“Don’t get me wrong, this is a really complex area, it’s not something where you can just pick up a great model and apply it and it’ job done. It sometimes involves some deep reflective thinking and that’s a part of our model of teaching here at MGSE, thinking about how to build your capacity to critically engage with the research, but also critically engage with your practice, wherever you are, whether you’re in the school, or higher education sector.”
Gerrard says the course could have a range of applications, reaching beyond the classroom and into other areas of education.
“This is a great chance for educators thinking about taking up leadership opportunities, with these kinds of interests in mind, or thinking about deepening their own practice.
"But it’s also a great bridging point to other education spaces, thinking about research, to think about policy, and to think about education in other contexts,” she says.
“We have people who are working in education who are not in schools, who are in policy, for instance, who come through our courses. So, [it gives] them a chance to connect what the research is saying, with whatever they’re facing in their particular context, so that when they come back into the setting ... they can be immediately applying and thinking about the sorts of learning from the course.”