Past Events
Managing, Researching, and Enabling Respectful Sexual Conduct in Higher Education
Date: February 19-20, 2018/ Ghent, Belgium

Campus sexual violence and harassment is endemic. Research shows that 20% of women at one time during their academic career experience sexual assault and that 5% of men undergo unwanted sexual conduct through force or incapacitation.[1] Rape, sexual violence, harassment, stalking, having to endure unwelcomed sexual attentions – all pose a threat to the academic and personal development of students as well of staff.  Although considered to be the ‘gold-standard’ in ethical sexual relations, we are still confronted with an ethical deficit in sexual conduct within institutions that often have the greatest rhetorical commitment to ethical values.

From the late seventies onwards, there has been a growing awareness of a widespread (date-)rape crisis and culture and of workplace sexual harassment. A growing number of Higher Education Institutions have developed strategies, policies and practices to respond to and prevent non-consensual sexual relations. They have focused on finding viable antidotes to: systemic sexual harassment; the staggering prevalence of (often unreported) rape and sexual violence; and problematic sexual behaviour within staff-staff, staff-student and student-student relations. Yet often these responses have been undermined by their relatively secretive and subdued promotion within institutions and the difficulties of policing social and sexual relationships.

How much has really changed? How much impact have these initiatives had on the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment? How far have policy and practice responses been subordinated to issues of institutional reputation and liability? How much have these contributed to enabling a culture of consensual, open and diverse campus sexuality?

It is time to take stock, learn from the past and plan for the future. In this two-day workshop, we’ll be looking at the ways these often violent, non-consensual sexual relations have been managed, researched and at what has been and can be done to enable consensual sexual relations in the academy. The goal is to identify and evaluate best practices and strategies, to sketch out a future policy and research agenda and to contribute to the development of a respectful and healthy sexual culture in Higher Education. We seek to bring together researchers, policy makers, academics and students to reflect on the sexual politics of higher education and build a collaborative agenda for more research and for the development of effective policy tools and practice guidance.

We invite proposals for papers addressing the management of, research into, and ways to enable consensual and respectful sexual conduct in the academy. The two days themselves have already been structured so as to direct discussion, with a half day each on:

  • Theme 1: Managing sexual (mis)conduct
  • Theme 2: Researching (non-)consensual sex
  • Theme 3: Enabling consensual and respectful sex
We are particularly interested in submission or expressions of interest for participation where delegates commit the attending the full programme. Given the desire for the workshop to produce tangible outcomes, we seek to build a group of committed participants to take the project forward. In this respect, participants who do not wish to contribute a paper should write explaining their interest in attending and participating. The language of the workshop will be English.

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