The University should encourage academic schools to introduce content note guides for lecturers and module leaders

Passed: November 2021 (23rd)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

This policy was originally submitted in 2018 by Monisha Jackson and expired in May 2021. I would like to renew the policy as I believe that, while the university has made some progress in this area, the changes are not far-reaching enough across our institution.

Content notes are extremely important for a student's well being and their engagement with academia. The purpose of content notes is to let people know when a sensitive topic (which can include text or images) is coming up in the content they are studying. For example, when sensitive topics including sexual violence, eating disorders and/or racial violence are discussed without warning it can be distressing to individuals with personal experience to it. Knowing this in advance gives students the agency to make informed decisions about how they will approach the learning material. It is important to note that the use of content notes is not intended as censorship. In fact, the use of content notes often has a positive impact on open discussions around sensitive topics, as students are better prepared to explore them. If they were used consistently across the University, students would feel free to choose any courses/modules without worrying about the impact of the topic on their mental health.

Three years down the road the University is more equipped to encourage academic schools to implement content notes for taught modules. For example, in the School of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (AHC), we have seen the development of a new Student Advisory board who speak from perspectives that are often under-represented. They include students from minority ethnic communities, disabled students, students who are the first in their family to attend university, LGBTQI+ students, mature students, international students and students who are carers. Content notes have been a key focus of the group and they continue to advise the school on encouraging university staff to use them in their faculty. We believe by submitting the idea LUU can lobby Faculties across the University to adopt a similar structure that allows students from each discipline to have a say in shaping how modules are delivered, including topics that require content notes. We have seen some excellent outcomes of these student consultations within AHC. For example, schools from the Faculty Arts, Humanities and Cultures are now producing guides for lecturers/module leaders on content notes. If this idea were to be successful in it’s resubmission, we would aspire to have every school across the institution producing content note guides that have been consulted on by students.

Expires: November 2021 (23rd)

Submitted By: Sophia Hartley

Officer: Wellbeing / Education

Area of Work: Education Service Provision

Updates

November 2021: New Policy