This issue of Three-D lands in a tumultuous period for Higher Education. Talk of ‘extraordinary times’ has gradually been replaced by the ‘new normal’, as we adjust to the ‘extra’ being dropped from the ‘ordinary’. Campuses are slowly reopening to prepare for an academic year that will be defined by how we adopt and adapt to Covid-19, to protect health and wellbeing of all staff and students.
The scale of change required to meet physical distancing guidelines and to create safe working environments for staff and students is nothing short of transformational. It requires not simply personal protective measures, changes to social interactions, or a new estates logic, but a reimagining of pedagogical underpinnings of academic delivery.
Contact time will be recast as online interaction, asynchronous and multimodal forms of delivery take precedence. Some may wish for this ‘normal’ to be temporary, others for it to be a foundation of something transformative, or perhaps something in between.
But this ‘new normal’ cannot solely a transformation of academic working practices and student interactions. We cannot build a foundation of a ‘new normal’ unless we also address the structural inequalities of higher education at every level. The Black Lives Matter protests have rightly accelerated long overdue action on decolonising our curriculums and other positive actions to create a fairer and more equitable University landscape. Diversity, equity and social justice should be guiding principles for all of higher education, and for all of our contributions to knowledge. Change is long overdue, and it must be at the heart of our ‘new normal’.
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