Reflections on the DISCs Project
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK | 8 September 2020
Like so many things since the onset of COVID-19, my time on the DISCs project has been deeply affected by the space the world was thrust into early in 2020 and continues to be in now. Because of this, the project did not finish out the way it was originally intended and, honestly, took somewhat of a back-seat for me as more immediate and pressing personal and professional issues came to the fore. Global events have also had a strange effect on time in that first semester of my time on the DISCs project was unaffected yet seems so long ago as to be, at times, a somewhat hazy memory.
Nevertheless, while much remains unrealized, there was huge value in being involved with the DISCs project. In the first instance, it was refreshing and inspiring to meet colleagues from across institutions with a commitment to and passion for social justice in higher education. I have fond memories of us coming together in Maynooth and the sense of collegiality that this brought. Of myself, upon reflection, I know that I when I began on the DISCs project, I was struggling with the task of making social justice a central and, importantly, tangible pillar of my teaching approach. I felt I was doing a lot of talking about social justice, but I questioned whether or not I was ‘doing’ social justice. I also wanted to examine the possibility of shifting from teaching about social justice to a type of teaching which encouraged the actioning of social justice. I feel that while I have not fully resolved these questions, my time on the DISCs project and the learning that accompanied this has certainly brought me toward some clarity. It was also very encouraging to find that there was a commonality of experience with colleagues from across disciplines and institutions and to have the opportunity to learn from this.
In respect to what I will bring to the classroom from my time on the DISCs project, I have undoubtedly benefitted hugely from the direct engagement of the DISCs teams, particularly the one to one work. Something I have often struggled with is turning safe spaces into brave spaces in the sense of finding a way to safely challenge students. Through my work with the DISCs project team, I feel I have advanced my ability to do this and this is something I will continue to strive toward. Ultimately, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have taken part in the project and I feel that the experiences I have had are something that I—and therefore hopefully those I teach—will reap the benefits of for many years to come.