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CUS Around the World: Knowledge Sharing in 2021

With the end of 2021 drawing closer, we asked our contributors to share highlights of their work from the year. Specifically, work that engages with the university in critical ways. Below are the responses. We hope that they provide you with a taste of some of the great work being done in the field of Critical University Studies.

Su-ming Khoo

Su-ming Khoo presented at the Emancipatory Imaginations: Advancing Critical University Studies Winter School in 2019 and has remained a highly engaged contributor to the network since. This year, she presented the second ACUSAfrica seminar, speaking on "Sustainability, transdisciplinarity and the public epistemic role of higher education". This contribution addressed the critical role of education and research in higher education, drawing on the radical roots of inter- and trans-disciplinarity (Khoo et al 2019; Toomey et al 2015); noting higher education’s specific democratic role in fostering public reason (White 2017) and aspects of creativity, emergence and the transdisciplinary imagination (Lawrence 2010).

Other 2021 presentations that speak to Critical University Studies include one on 'Academic Freedom' as part of the Research Ethics Conversations at NUI Galway and one on 'Aligning "Quality" and "Equity" in Higher Education Repair of Decoloniality and the Tasks of Undone Science' at the EADI/ISS Annual Conference.

Su has published extensively this year. Some highlights include:

Su is also currently the principal investigator of the BCAUSE Building Collaborative Approaches to University Strategies against Exclusion in Ireland and Africa: pedagogies for quality Higher Education and inclusive global citizenship IRC-COALESCE 2019-2022 (Collaborating PI: Prof Paul Prinsloo, UNISA).

Sharon Stein

This year I deepened my ongoing work examining and experimenting with possible futures of higher education in relation to decolonization, internationalization, and sustainability. This includes scholarly works but also knowledge mobilizations (a workbook and op/eds) that seek to invite others to consider the complexities, challenges, and possibilities of imagining education otherwise. Much of this work was done in collaboration with my research collective, Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures. Knowledge mobilizations:

Scholarly publications

André Keet

André Keet and his team at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation continue to work on advancing Critical University Studies through both intellectual and programmatic initiatives. This includes an ongoing research project funded by the National Research Foundation, South Africa. For more on the work of the Chair, please click here to view their 2018-2021 report.

André has also continued to present and publish on the question of the University. A paper presented at a webinar hosted by the Global (De) Centre Network entitled "Africanising/Decolonising Ourselves: The Implications for Advancing Critical University Studies – Africa (ACUSAfrica)" is one highlight. In it, André put forward a conversation between the notions of Africanising and decolonising the university, specifically located within an African interpretation of Critical University Studies (CUS). The webinar framed CUS as the study of universities through analyses of power, privilege and authority and reflected on different programmes and their associated practices that orbit the notions of Africanisation and decolonisation within universities. Click here to read the transcript.

The first ACUSAfrica podcast also featured André's talk entitled "Racism's Knowledge, Critical Hope and the Transformation of the University" from a webinar on "The Contribution of Universities to Racial Justice" hosted by the SRHE’s South West network. In it, he discusses critical hope and the possibilities for transformation resident in the conversation between Africanisation and decolonisation.

In terms of publications, André published the following this year:

Dina Zoe Belluigi

This has been another strange year marked by personal and professional loss and sadnesses; moments of reprieve were through knowledge sharing and learning, and for that I am grateful to my lovely collaborators.

A successful project on current Syrian knowledge production with fellow network contributor, Dr Shaher, was completely unfunded when the UK government slashed its ODA commitments. You can hear about our hopes, and then when they were dashed, in the podcast: ‘Syrian academics and academia: Interactions through Cara’ Social Charter Podcast Episode 8 Series 2, Queen's University Belfast available at We have since collaborated on a book chapter for the first ACUSAfrica book, with Drs Abdulateed, Anis and Parkinson.

Another attempt at turning failure into conversation was the paper published by Dr Joseph and myself asking questions about funding discrimination and Africanist research in the UK. Read more here: Belluigi, D. Z., & Joseph, E. (2021) Within the award funding gap: The Im-possibility of an All Ireland Africanist network in 2020. African Identities. . Some of this paper informed the talk which Dr Joseph hosted, about How should [Irish] Higher Education respond to Black Lives Matter? on the 6th of May 2021. This was catalysed by an open letter written by the African Scholars Association of Ireland, of which I fortunate to be a member.

Concerns about knowledge production, open access and editorial processes were raised in this joint publication for journal editors early on in 2021: Shephard, K., Thondhlana, G., Wolff, L.A., Belluigi, D, Z., Rieckmann, M., Vega-Marcote, P. (2021.) On the nature of quality in the contexts of academic publication and sustainability. Frontiers in Education, section Teacher Education, special issue The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: The Response from Educational Research.

While most of my work has not been focused on the global North, I was honoured to contribute to questions of the relation of university knowledge production and the social good in Northern Ireland where I currently reside, leading to a small piece of analysis with a local thinktank in Belfast. See: Lubit, A., & Belluigi, D. (2021) Collation and Mapping of Research related to Migrant and Minority Ethnic Matters in Northern Ireland produced within Northern Ireland’s Universities. The Migrant and Minority Council of Northern Ireland. There have been a number of follow-on activities about the knowledge gaps for studies about and/or with the participation of migrants and ethnic minorities in this region. A follow-up study is underway.

During the year, Drs Dhawan, Idahosa and I have continued to share insights from our project looking at ‘sustainability’ and ‘transformation’ in HE in India and South Africa. We participated in three conferences in India and the UK, and have a number of publications submitted for book chapters and journal publications. Please see my institutional repository for slides and abstracts if of interest.

Sharing analysis and reflections about arts-based research practices about HE, occurred throughout the year. Two are perhaps most of value for readers are:

  • Belluigi, D. Z. & Meistre, B. A. (2021) Authoring author-ity in transition? The ‘Counter // Narratives of Higher Education’ Project. Video of paper for the conference Visualising Social Changes: Seen and Unseen of the International Visual Sociology Association Annual Conference. Available at .

  • Chong, S.W. in conversation with Belluigi, D. Z. The BERA ECR Network presents: The University in Transition: Visual Higher Education Studies. Audio recording

It was good to have the opportunity to share insights from South African HE to scholarship on ‘diversity’ and ‘equity’ in the UK, thanks to the invitation of fellow ACUSAfrica contributor Prof Arday. See Belluigi, D. Z. & Thondhlana, G. (2021) In whose interest is ‘training the dog’? Black academics’ reflection on academic development for ‘access and success’ in an historically white university in South Africa. Thomas, D. S. P. and Arday, J. (eds). Doing Equity and Diversity for Success in Higher Education: Redressing Structural Inequalities in the Academy. Palgrave Studies in Race, Inequality and Social Justice in Education, Palgrave Macmillan.


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