1st Edition

Creating a Totally Inclusive University

By Stephen Whitehead, Pat O'Connor Copyright 2023
    230 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book introduces the concept and practices of Total Inclusivity to universities around the world. It is written to help universities contend with increasing public scrutiny and uncertainty around issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice now at the forefront of global higher education.

    Providing a guide and template to higher education leaders, the book addresses such issues as work culture, free speech, student wellbeing, racism, LGBT+ identities, managerialism or ‘simply’ the ability of the institution to survive post-Covid. Whitehead and O’Connor argue that handling these issues can best be done in a university climate and system which is Totally Inclusive. This is the standard for any higher education institution to aim for, not only in its teaching but in its fundamental principles and everyday practices if it is to meet its obligations to its members and to wider society.

    The book aims to support universities as well as challenge the status quo as they grapple with the different global and societal pressures confronting them. It is an essential read for anyone working in leadership in higher education institutions and those interested in creating inclusive practices within their institution.

    1. Introducing Total Inclusivity Part One: How Inclusive are Universities? 2. Who cares about Total Inclusivity? 3. Academic Staff: How inclusive do universities look? 4. How does non-inclusion work? Key mechanisms and processes 5. How are universities responding to the big challenge? 6. Leadership, whiteness and masculinism Part Two: You and ‘Your’ University 7. The politics of belonging 8. An international learning community? 9. Privilege 10. ‘Free’ speech? 11. A crisis of love Part Three: What Next for Universities? 12. The Totally Inclusive university audit 13. What next for you?


    Stephen Whitehead is a British sociologist and educationalist. He is an internationally recognised expert on men and masculinities, gender identity, and international education. This is his 16th book, and his third on Total Inclusivity. Stephen lives with his wife in Chiang Mai, Thailand. www.stephen-whitehead.com

    Pat O’Connor is an Irish sociologist and feminist. She is an internationally recognised expert on gender equality, leadership, power and institutional resistance in higher education. An emeritus professor of sociology and social policy at the University of Limerick, she is a visiting professor at University College Dublin, Ireland. This is her ninth book. https://www.ul.ie/research/prof-pat-oconnor

    Stephen and Pat’s book is an absolute pleasure to read. It is just so timely to be looking at the real meaning of total inclusivity in all its dimensions, especially higher education. For too long we have known of and spoken of discrimination but have not been bold enough or organised enough to fully address it. This book will stimulate conversations – even uncomfortable conversations and that is what is needed.

    Prof Deborah Eyre, Executive Chair at High Performance Learning, UK

    This book is for anyone engaged with the question of what the University is for and asking how such institutions can achieve survival with integrity. Integrity, through the lens of Total Inclusion, refers to principled, respectful inclusion of all individuals pursuing their aspirations through Higher Education – and the avoidance of harm through systematic bias and prejudice - explicit or implicit. Such a responsibility attaches particularly to Universities, distinctive and powerful institutions in society that Whitehead and O’Connor argue should be exemplars of inclusive values and practice.

    Whitehead and O’Connor start from basics; evidence and theory interwoven. The evidence is drawn with a global sweep, and the authors’ comparative approach will broaden awareness. Throughout the book, they make their case with care, through a ’critical’ lens that exposes the systematic injustices that result from many received practices. The analysis is neither sweeping, nor simplistic. Both authors have walked their talk. Both were what would now be termed ‘non-traditional’ entrants to HE; both have had long careers in Universities; and both are critical scholars with keen eyes for how structural and cultural injustices play out, and how they can be challenged. The book offers a credo; humanist, inclusive, and, in asking how to resolve rather than polarise issues of freedom and justice, appealing to our widest, collective interest.

    Each chapter has a sharp summary and conclusion, but it’s in the detail of the argument that the compelling value of the book is to be found. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to do as the last two chapters reveal: Whitehead and O’Connor provide a powerful framework, and some useful practical moves to start the process of total inclusion.

    Steve Cropper, Emeritus Professor of Management, Keele University, UK

    Whitehead and O’Connor have written a must-read primer for anyone concerned with the future of higher education. It is book for students, leaders, lecturers, all who care to establish a university culture where individuals can bring their whole self to work and thrive in an environment in which people of all backgrounds are empowered and can contribute authentically and genuinely. The concept of Total Inclusivity is timely and powerful during this unprecedented time. Achieving diversity and equity in the workplace is a journey that never ends, but the most important thing is to start. The book is not only informed by contemporary research but also heavily embedded in organizational practices. Read this book - and learn both theoretical and practical knowledge to help you contribute to achieving Total Inclusivity in global higher education.

    Dr Minh Nguyen, Director of Education Services, Vinschool Education System, Vietnam

    Ever the voice of progressive clarity, Stephen Whitehead (with Pat O’Connor) explores the transient nature of identity in our world. No punches are pulled as the old, romantic notion of leadership is dispersed through a concise breakdown. "Creating a Totally Inclusive University" offers a clear path forward with a strong foundation of both research and morality, focusing on the implementation of true practice over lip service. Any stakeholders in the modern university system would do well to read and keep this one close at hand.

    Alex Batten, Head of Operations, Harrow Appi International School, Japan

    This is an important book, coming at an important time. Universities face critical scrutiny, not least of all from increasingly informed – and increasingly demanding – students and staff. Nothing short of 'total inclusivity' is enough. Relevant to managers and leaders in institutions of all shapes, sizes, and forms, ‘Creating a Totally Inclusive University’ balances theory and actionable insight with powerful stories of lived experience (both where things went right and where things went wrong). Stephen and Pat add their authoritative and informed voices to the rising chorus demanding fully inclusive Universities.

    Dr Denry Machin, MD Pedagogue and International School Consultant

    This important book is emblematic of conversations happening across the education sector as a whole. In my work at a Russell Group UK university, I know first hand the importance placed on valuing, protecting, and nurturing diverse identities. This insightful book marries theory with practice, supporting universities with their current reflections and policy making in this area.

    Nicholas McKie, Assistant Professor, University of Warwick, UK

    This inspiring book confirms that universities must transform themselves in this new global era. Universities can no longer be exclusive; they must meet the changing needs of a global society. Universities have been based too much on specialization and elitism, with little concern for inclusivity and collaboration. Every aspect of this book and all the practical guidance given by the authors, leads us to co-rebuild a smarter total inclusive university.

    Dr Chokchai Suttawet, Thailand National Research Office and development activist

    As ever more intense scrutiny is placed on the capacity of Higher Education Institutions to create inclusive spaces, the authors offer accessible, non-judgemental pathways for HE communities to reframe approaches to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice. The book not only gives cause for a critical reassessment of HEI cultures (and the dominant hierarchies of value entrenched within it) but demonstrates how Totally Inclusive activism can impact positively on our lives - in education, and beyond. Aside from being a truly welcome addition to a flourishing literature on this subject, the book is notable for offering a framework for the creation of safe, intellectually stimulating, communities in which every individual belongs.

    Dr Rob Power, Founder, www.powerfulhistories.com