Higher Education for the Common Good - Learning from COVID-19

The University of Hull’s Teaching Excellence Academy 2021 free international online conference will explore how we can harness learning through adversity to inspire the next generation of global citizens.
Date: Tuesday 13 July 13.30 to Wednesday 14 July 12.30

We are delighted to welcome keynote addresses from our Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Lea, NTF and Hull University Students' Union President Inclusivity & Diversity Evie Kyte and President Education Simeon Orduen.

In the age of COVID-19, changes to the world of work and study have accelerated to an unprecedented speed. The fourth industrial revolution is happening right now.

We have seen how the challenges we face at a local level are shared across the globe, how our actions have far reaching consequence and how disadvantage is dangerously life-threatening.

As HE successfully shifts to blended and remote delivery, so too does business, public services and the third sector. Across HE, values-driven creativity and innovation lead a generous, compassionate response to the pandemic: we have attempted to breach the digital divide (Lawrence and Sarjantson, 2020); adopted more inclusive pedagogic practices (Brown and Sambal, 2020), even rethought our use of physical space (Scott, 2020) and worked more flexibly (McVitty, 2020b), if harder than we have ever worked before (McVitty, 2020a). How can we meaningfully sustain our new and progressive ways of work and study and inspire a hopeful future?

‘Hopefulness empowers us to continue our work for justice’ (hooks, 2003, XIV), so join us to consider how we can prepare our students and staff for an unknowable future and celebrate HE as a ‘global common good’ (UNESCO, 2015).

Conference Themes

  1. Hybrid Pedagogies: for example, remote or flipped - blended teaching and learning; addressing the digital divide, physically distant, safe proximate pedagogies, embedding wellbeing in blended teaching;

  2. Sustainability: for example, economic and environmental sustainability in programme design, development and delivery; establishing sustainable HE in the context of the pandemic;

  3. Decolonising Curricula: for example, students and staff working together to decolonise curricula content and teaching practices, diversify reading lists or the creation of opportunities for staff and students to think critically about decolonisation in the context of the pandemic;

  4. Competence-Based HE: for example, embedding knowledge exchange in programme design; entrepreneurial education; co-development of curricula with students, PSRBs, regional business or third sector partners; teaching reflection and self-regulation in a time of crisis.

Conference Experience

We delivered our first online conference in 2020, with 250 delegates, who told us there were ‘some fantastic ideas and discussions’ with ‘a great community feel’; the conference was ‘enjoyable, professional, inspiring and innovative’, with ‘great speakers’ with a ‘lively and engaging chat’ facility. 100% of respondents (29) would recommend the event to colleagues.

This year we will build on that success and again run the conference online, offering fringe networking and wellbeing-focussed activities and, of course, regular screen breaks.

Conference Highlights 

  • Keynote Address
    Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Reflections on the Impact of Covid-19
    Vice Chancellor Professor Susan Lea, NTF

  • Conference SoTL Walks: Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19
    Dr Natasha Taylor, SFHEA. Senior Educational Developer. RMIT University, Australia

  • Keynote Address
    Student experiences during Covid-19: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    Hull University Students' Union President Inclusivity & Diversity and President Education

  • Playful Plenary ‘Zip, Zap, Zine’
    Dr Kate Cuthbert, PFHEA, Senior Academic Practice Consultant & Laura Stinson, Academic Practice Advisor, AFHEA at NTU.

Read full information on the Conference Highlights. 

Submitting a Proposal

Proposals should outline practical wisdom others can learn from and/or adopt, be scholarship of teaching and learning-led, and will be selected based on evident success or lessons learned from the initiative described. 

We welcome collaborative work, and encourage submissions from students, staff in all roles supporting teaching and learning, employers and university partners.

  1. Discussion papers (20 minutes) Organised into 60-minute panels of 2 papers and time for discussion.
  2. Panels (60 minutes) Please submit a group proposal outlining a theme with brief detail of paper/s (a collection of shorter papers is welcome, please ensure there is time for discussion).
  3. Workshops or debates (60 minutes) Outlining a practice/approach with time for delegates to consider how it could be applied to their context.
  4. Pecha Kucha (5 minutes) Show-case presentations delivered in quick succession. A great medium for work in progress, for example, using the University of Hull's Competency Framework in curricula design. Can be pre-recorded, see submission pro forma for details. (See footnote 1)
  5. Poster Displays. There will be a Poster Prize. (See footnote 2)

Novel and engaging approaches to presenting work are welcome!
Presentations may be pre-recorded.
First-time teaching and learning conference presenters welcome.

Submit your proposal by completing this online form by 26 March 2021.

Footnote 1: Pecha Kucha originated in Japan in 2003 and translates to “Chit Chat” in English.  Each presentation lasts for 5 minutes and is made up of 15 slides. The slides contain little or no text and will be on the screen for 20 seconds each, after which the slide will automatically change to the next.  After 5 minutes, the next presenter will start their presentation (even if you have not finished). Pecha Kuchas are known for their fast-paced nature and are a fun, informal way to share ideas. They can be pre-recorded.

Footnote 2: All posters which are accepted into the conference exhibition will also be entered into the Conference Poster Competition. There will be two prizes for the best conference posters:

  • The people's choice: voted for by conference delegates
  • The judge's choice: chosen by keynote speakers.

As with session proposals, posters are expected to present practical wisdom others can learn from and/or adopt and be scholarship of teaching and learning-led. The judges will base their decision on the clarity of message and the positive impact of the work on the student experience.


hooks, b (2010) Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. UK: Routledge*

Lawrence, J (2020) Assessing competencies could equip graduates for an uncertain post Covid 19 future. WonkHE blog, Retrieved January 2021

Lawrence J, Huxley-Binns R, Scott G. (2020) Preparing Students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Competence-based HE. Teaching Excellence Academy Blog. Retrieved January 2021

Lawrence, J and Sarjantson, M. (2020) University of Hull Reading List Criteria.

McVitty, D (2020a) How are you doing today? Wonkhe readers hopes for wellbeing in post-covid universities. WONKHE blog Retrieved January 2021

McVitty, D (2020b) Seven Things the HE sector learned in 2020 – what universities should prepare for in 2021. WonkHE blog. Retrieved January 2021

Scott, G (2020) Can we plan for a socially distanced campus? WonkHE blog, Retrieved January 2021

United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (2015) Rethinking Education: towards a common good. Retrieved January 2021

* hooks does not capitalise her name

Image by RitaE from Pixabay. 

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