Diverse Voices in Textiles

Project timeframe
Open ended
Research area
Amount awarded
Funder ID
Teaching Innovation Award: Loughborough University

Project leader: Kerri Akiwowo

Diverse Voices in Textiles asks: ‘How many textile designers, artists or practitioners can you name who are Black, Asian, from Ethnic Minorities, identify as LGBTQI+, or living with a disability?

This enquiry confronts the lack of diversity in textile curriculums and academic communities, sector-wide in the UK and at Loughborough University. Textiles is a multifaceted discipline with a profound historical connection to international trade, social identities and culture.

It is also a global industry at the intersection of growing economies, technological advancement and design innovation. Yet, academia and the textiles industry in Britain today have floundered to acknowledge the broader social and cultural contexts of the discipline. A Teaching Innovation Award for Inclusivity was presented by the Pro Vice Chancellor for Teaching to a project team of design researchers, practitioners and educators at Loughborough University with several years’ experience in textile design higher education within the UK and leading disciplinary expertise within the wider creative industry and textile sector. These academics represent marginalised groups and draw from collective personal experiences and perspectives as members of the textile community who want to inspire and engage the next generation of textile graduates to build on their understanding of equality, equity and inclusivity.

The award, together with external support from The Clothworkers’ Foundation will aid the creation and development of an accessible digital resource to enhance textiles students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject by bringing critical stories to the forefront. The launch includes a series of engaging guest talks and an exhibition. The project deliverables will be used as a fundamental tool to embed EDI within the current/new undergraduate textiles programme curriculum and create positive discourse and debate to empower our students with relevant competencies. Resources generated will facilitate the students’ ability to respond and function with awareness and interpersonal skills when engaging with cultural themes, and people of different backgrounds, assumptions, beliefs, values, and behaviours in their educational and professional development.

Textile Design Studies at Loughborough University is consistently ranked high in league tables each year. This work supports exemplary academic practice in research informed teaching at the institution and within the sector.

Principle Investigator: Dr Kerri Akiwowo
Full list of co-investigators: Kit Neale, Dr Chetna Prajapati, Emma Wood
Teaching Innovation Award received 2021 (Award period: 2021-2022)
The project is externally supported by The Clothworkers' Foundation

Images courtesy of Maxine Williams