The symposium commences at 1.00pm on Thursday 21st November (Day 1) and reconvenes on Friday 22nd November (Day 2) from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Ticket registration is for both days

Overview

This symposium will bring together key thinkers and scholars who have applied the capability theory (Sen 1992, 1993) and capital theory (Bourdieu, 1986, 1993) across disciplines to consider how this framing may assist us to reconceptualise student persistence.

We know little about how learners draw on ‘internal capabilities’ (Nussbaum, 2011) when persisting in university; these capabilities are not innate but instead develop in interaction with the individual’s environment (social, cultural, familial and political). Exploring how internal capabilities assist HE persistence and the functionings that support these capabilities will contribute alternative perspectives to the issue of student participation and retention. Rather than continuing to focus on what people lack (i.e. wealth, ability, language) why not focus on strengths in order to develop understandings that challenge traditional notions of access and participation? With the growth in diverse student populations, the need to understand the internal capabilities that support academic persistence and success is urgently required. This symposium deliberately shifts attention away from deficit views of student cohorts and instead utilises the Capability Approach and Capital Theories to understand the ways in which students successfully navigate higher education and reach graduation.

We have invited a range of speakers from across disciplines to contribute innovative perspectives to this broad field and the symposium would be of interest to the following:

  • Researchers / scholars of HE (particularly those researching equity fields)
  • Equity / Widening Participation Stakeholders 
  • Academic staff 
  • Policy Makers 
  • Representatives from not-for-profit / community organisations 

Invited Speakers

Dr Dina BowmanPrincipal Research Fellow, Work & Economic SecurityBrotherhood of St Laurence; University of Melbourne
Professor Penny Jane BurkeDirector, Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher EducationUniversity of Newcastle
Dr Tamsin Hinton-SmithSenior Lecturer in HEUniversity of Sussex, UK
Dr Tebeje MollaAustralian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)Deakin University
Dr Lien PhamLecturer in the Graduate Research SchoolUniversity of Technology
Dr Dina Bowman: University of Melbourne

Presentation title: Evening up the odds and changing the ‘rules of the game

Dr Dina Bowman is Principal Fellow, Work and Economic Security in BSL’s Research and Policy Centre and Honorary Principal Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, at the University of Melbourne. Dina’s  research focuses on work, employment, economic security and inequality. As an economic sociologist, she is interested in how gender, class, age, ‘race’ and disability intersect with paid and unpaid work to shape economic advantage or disadvantage across the life course. She is particularly interested in the lived experience of economic insecurity, low paid work and income support, how social policy impacts on people’s lives and policy responses to economic insecurity. She leads research on work and economic security at the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence.  She leads the longitudinal study Life Chances, which is now in its 29th year.


Professor Penny Jane Burke: Global Innovation Chair of Equity and Director CEEHE

Presentation title: Reframing Capability and Success through Multidimensional Social Justice Perspectives

Professor Penny Jane Burke is Global Innovation Chair of Equity and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE). Since completing her ESRC-funded PhD in 2001, she has been actively involved in shaping the field of equity in higher education (HE) through research, institutional leadership and the development of research networks and programs. Pushing the boundaries of the field, she developed praxis-based approaches that work towards transforming educational spaces and imaginaries and bringing research, theory and practice together. Her personal experience of returning to study via an Access to Higher Education program has fuelled her ongoing commitment to generating research with impact; firmly located in social justice methodologies.Penny Jane has published extensively in the field, including the authored books, Changing Pedagogical Spaces in HE (Burke, Crozier and Misiaszek, 2018, Routledge), Reconceptualising Lifelong Learning (Burke and Jackson, 2007, Routledge), The Right to HE (Burke, 2012) and Accessing Education effectively widening participation (Burke, 2002). Since relocating full-time to Australia in 2016, Professor Burke has engaged and informed the Australian HE sector in both research, policy and practice including through her role as an inaugural member of the Federal Department of Education and Training’s Equity Research and Innovation Expert Panel.


Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith: University of Sussex

Presentation title: Endeavour, privilege, luck: Considering the interplay of internal and external resources in the lives of Widening Participation students

Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Sussex in the UK. Her background is as a sociologist of gender and education, and she is a former Co-Director of the Sussex Centre for Gender Studies and current Deputy Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning Research. Tamsin’s central research interests include around higher education participation by ‘non-traditional’ students, and experiences of (un)belonging and marginalisations. Tamsin’s work has included around university students who are lone and teenage parents; care leavers; from Gypsy, Roma or Traveller (GRT) backgrounds; and young people living in areas where higher education participation is low. Tamsin commenced university as a single teenage parent herself. Recent sole and co-authored articles include Higher education outreach: examining key challenges for academics. (2019), Roma women’s higher education participation: whose responsibility? (2018), The ‘success’ of looked after children in Higher Education in England: near peer coaching, ‘small steps’ and future thinking. (2018), and Negotiating the risk of debt-financed higher education: the experience of lone parent students. (2016).  


Dr Tebeje Molla: Deakin University

Presentation title: Disadvantaged Social Position and Educational Outcome: A Capability Perspective

Dr Tebeje Molla is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow in Deakin University’s Strategic Research Centre in Education, Research for Educational Impact (REDI). His research focuses on educational inequality and policy responses, transnational educational policy processes, graduate research training policy, and teacher professional learning. Theoretically, his work is informed by critical sociology and a capability approach to social justice and human development. 


Dr Lien Pham: University of Technology

Presentation title: Sen-Bourdieu agency and reflexivity: A student-centric approach to understanding participation and achievement in education

Dr Lien Pham is a lecturer in higher degree research education at the Graduate Research School, University of Technology Sydney. Her research and publications are in international education and development, sociology of education, civil society, social justice, and diaspora combining critical theory and political philosophy. She has consulted for NSW government agencies in policy-focused research and evaluations, and for UNESCO on educational policy reforms in South East Asia. Her PhD research is recently published as a monograph entitled “International Graduates Returning to Vietnam: Experiences of the Local Economies, Universities and Communities”. She is currently writing a book on social activism and democratic capability under conditions of (democratic) duress.


Day 1: Thursday 21st November – Bldg 20 UOW Campus
1.00pmSYMPOSIUM COMMENCES
Acknowledgement to Country
Welcome to UOWProfessor Julia Coyle
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) and Interim Director, Learning Teaching and Curriculum
1.30pmBackground and context:
* the why of the project
* why are you here?
2.00pmOpening Address – Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith
Endeavour, privilege, luck: Considering the interplay of internal and external resources in the lives of Widening Participation students
3.00pmAfternoon tea and networking
3.30pmStudent panel discussion:
What helped me to persist?
4.30pmClose
Invitation to meet for dinner in Wollongong at own cost – details to follow.
Day 2: Friday 22nd November – Bldg 20 UOW Campus
8.30amRegistration and coffee – Bldg 20 Foyer
9.10amWelcome – A/Prof Shirley Agostinho
Convenor – Centre for Higher Education Research Innovation and Impact (CHERII), Faculty of Social Sciences Research Group
9.20amOpening Address Dr Dina Bowman
Evening up the odds and changing the ‘rules of the game
10.20amMorning tea and networking
10.45amInvited Paper – Prof Penny Jane Burke
Reframing Capability and Success through Multidimensional Social Justice Perspectives
30 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions
11.30amInvited Paper – Dr Tebeje Molla
Disadvantaged Social Position and Educational Outcome: A Capability Perspective 
30 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions
12.15pmInvited Paper – Dr Lien Pham
Sen-Bourdieu agency and reflexivity: A student-centric approach to understanding participation and achievement in education
30 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions
1.00pmLunch and networking
2.00pmPlenary
How can capabilities and capitals inform our understanding of higher education persistence and success?
2.45pmFinal thoughts
3.00pmClose

Nb. This is a draft program that is subject to change

Registration and Travel details are here.