NTU presents an exciting opportunity to research Consent Education at university. From 2018 to 2022 a partnership between the University and Students’ Union delivered workshops to increasing numbers of students and last year ran mandatory Consent-Is-Everything workshops for over 6000 first-year undergraduates, 90% of whom, when surveyed, recommended the workshop to other students (Student Support Services 2022). We believe this is a sector-leading initiative because we know of no others with such broad reach, and is worthy of in-depth study by researchers who are immersed in this context and engaged with the student body.
Sexualities education can range from a 10-year curriculum of Relationships and Sex Education to a more specific Consent Education, but must always embed a bold, up-to-date equalities component, both in its framing and its content, as NTU researchers have argued (Alldred & David 2007; Brady & Lowe 2020). As the right to self-define and the need to decolonise the academy are increasingly recognised, the equalities landscape continues to evolve. Several of the binaries relevant here have been questioned in recent research: Jones & Hillier (2012) and Formby & Donovan (2020) show how appropriate RSE for LGBT+ people is not a different curriculum, simply a comprehensive one; Jones (2019) explores its fit for intersex and trans youth; and Whittington (2019; 2020) has queried the ‘do consent/don’t consent’ binary and explored ‘the grey areas in between’ in research with young people.
A PhD on consent education at university can focus on aspects of curriculum, pedagogy, and/or response and impact as suits a candidate and builds on their background and experience in teaching, youth work, health education, etc. Whatever the substantive focus, the supervisory team suggest that this project develops a strong intersectional feminist framework for studying the responses of diverse students which offers one of its potential theoretical contributions: the development of a framework that fully acknowledges racialised, faith-based or other cultural differences among students in HE.
This interdisciplinary supervision team will support the application of theoretical approaches from across Education, Sociology, Social Work and Youth Work, and brings expertise in educational tools and training methodologies from both formal and nonformal education, and knowledge and experience of methodologies for researching them, and for researching sexuality issues. This study will help the development of good practice in the delivery of consent education at NTU in partnership with the Student Support Services and could help advance evaluation technologies for education.