Inspire - a Teaching Fellows' newsletter

Promoting excellence in Learning and Teaching, driven by Middlesex Senior Fellows of HEA with contributions welcomed from all Middlesex staff.

Bridging social capital

Within the Students’ Union one of our key mechanisms for understanding diversity is through the lens of social capital. If we consider ‘bonding’ social capital what happens when similar groups of people spend time together, then ‘bridging’ social capital is what occurs when we learn and collaborate with those who are different to us. Creating situations in which ‘bridging’ social capital is created may be more challenging, but it is also worthwhile.
The great thing about Middlesex is how often situations in which bridging social capital is created occurs. Middlesex is one of the most diverse universities in the country. Our students are from all ages and backgrounds. This means that our capacity for creating bridging social capital is much higher, allowing our students to form their skills working in genuinely diverse communities. Similarly, within the Students’ Union our activities bring together students from diverse backgrounds through our societies, campaigns, events and student voice conferences. For us, this bridging social capital which creates our strong diverse community is created best when our students work together, whether they are learning together and from each other collaboratively, organising events, working together on group work, or campaigning together in the community. 

Diversity within the curriculum is also a challenge facing all universities. Increasingly students are demanding a curriculum which reflects the diversity of our campuses and our world. We also see this as key to a diverse learning community, for us diversity needs to be in the reading lists as well as the register. We are lucky to have such a diverse community here, but it also means that it is even more important that our curriculum gives voice to the backgrounds and experiences of all of our students.