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Course: "Re:Tension Using film and the aftermath debate to tackle racism in higher education, a toolkit and training session for universities"

This project uses a collaborative multi-layered approach using voices and lived experiences to develop and embed race equality for first year students.

Learning objectives

This project uses a collaborative multi-layered approach using voices and lived experiences to develop and embed race equality across the University. Through co-created learning and teaching resources and discussions, we aim to develop institutional wide change in culture to become anti racist. The aftermath debate empowers people to understand themselves, understand others better and take appropriate action to address racial inequalities.


Students were provided with the opportunity to work on a professional production, developing the necessary hands-on experience required to manage the complexities of a film production shoot. However, it was much more than this.  It was activism work experience for students developing their sense of self, their commitment to being anti racist and social justice taking action for change. This form of co-creation is a real immersive learning and teaching approach and is implemented through other projects we offer at our institution as a result.
After watching the film Re:Tension, the Toolkit’s focus is on openly challenging racism and discrimination and uses a theoretical model, titled The Forced Silence (Shakir and Barker, 2019).  This model depicts the isolating, lonely and painful position an individual person of colour occupies when they are forced
into silence and not able to speak out about their experiences nor challenge those who perpetrate.

Official data is presented from the participating institution in respect of both student and staff experiences to depict the true realities of what is happening on the front line, every day.  The training package refers to Leeds Trinity University achieving the Race Equality Charter Bronze award in November 2020 and both good practice and innovation in learning and teaching are shared with participants.  There is also a 3-6-month review follow up session included for both students, staff and external universities to review their anti-racist commitments, pledges and actions through supportive dialogue with the team.


We use both face to face and online delivery for these sessions. We also use Vevox during the session, an anonymous polling software platform to enable participants to provide feedback anonymously.

These workshops are part of the University strategy around embedding race equality in our learning, teaching and assessment, underpinned by our Race Equality Charter action plan and our Strategic Plan to embed social justice and equity.  We use feedback from the sessions to inform the ongoing development of our race equality curriculum and teaching practice.  The development of safe spaces through Re:Tension has further strengthened our staff equality networks, notably the BAME staff network which has quadrupled in membership and from which consultation around policy development is sought from the University’s Executive Team.

Furthermore, due to this success there is now a developing replicated structure within the student body of student equity networks where cross collaboration, consultation, support and mentoring can take place more easily between staff and students from protected characteristics.


Re:Tension Trailer from 3FootStudios on Vimeo.

Tools and Materials

We watch the film Re:Tension together and then we begin the aftermath debate.  We use the whole film production co-creation experience as a starting point for discussion about racism in higher education, before we move onto sharing personal experiences through structured safe spaces.  We also use poetry to
share traumatic experiences.

Course by Ricardo Barker (Associate Professor Learning and Teaching) and Syra Shakir (Professor Learning and Teaching) at Leeds Trinity University