International Research Conference, Lancaster UK, 18 - 20 July 2016
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Co-Creation of the Curriculum and Social Justice: Changing the Nature of Student-Teacher Relationships in Higher Education

Tanya Lubicz-Nawrocka, University of Edinburgh


Co-creation of the curriculum is an innovative process in which students and staff members become partners who each have a voice and a stake in curriculum development. Although few academics and students currently participate in co-creation of the curriculum in practice, I argue that co-creation of the curriculum has become a popular idea within the higher education community because it represents the theory and ideals of social justice. Co-creation of the curriculum promotes an open dialogue about meaningful best practices in learning and teaching whilst redistributing power in the classroom and giving students more opportunities as well as added responsibilities. Students and staff members participating in co-creation of the curriculum can and should contribute different things to a partnership since their roles, expertise, responsibilities, and status are necessarily different. However, an authentic partnership shows a commitment to social justice when it promotes honest discussions that promote engagement and trust when students and staff members share a more equal balance of power and learn from each others’ rich experiences and perspectives.

Increasing tuition fees for Rest of UK (RUK) and international students have emphasised the market purpose of Scottish higher education, including instrumental and economic benefits, which have overshadowed more nebulous, intrinsic purposes of higher education. Traditional methods of teaching emphasising lecturing and examining focus on efficiency of teaching, transmitting knowledge, and maintaining academic power. I argue that these teaching methods can and often do preserve inequalities of power in the classroom, which does not fulfil a social justice purpose of higher education.

In my qualitative research, I explore why a small number of staff members in the Scottish higher education sector choose to engage in partnerships to co-create the curriculum with their students, and how they change the nature of student-teacher relationships. Findings from semi-structured interviews highlight co-creation of the curriculum as a more just, authentic, and rewarding form of teaching and learning that can help students and staff to engage critically to facilitate more intrinsic purposes of higher education such as the development of active, informed citizens. This paper explores the ways in which co-creation of the curriculum can change the nature of student-teacher relationships to advance human flourishing by employing the tenets of social justice.


Social justice, co-creation of the curriculum, curriculum, student engagement, students as partners

Link to Full Paper


Conference Organisers

Paul Trowler
Lancaster University, UK

Alice Jesmont
Lancaster University, UK

Malcolm Tight
Lancaster University, UK

Paul Ashwin
Lancaster University, UK

Murray Saunders
Lancaster University, UK

Chrissie Boughey
Rhodes University, South Africa

Suellen Shay
University of Cape Town, SA

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