Power & Privilege of Failure in Higher Education

Our group is committed to addressing the power and privilege inherent in being able to embrace, learn from, and bounce back from failure. We have noted that the rhetoric around taking risks, embracing failure, and bouncing back is pervasive in higher education, but the corresponding structural supports that students and faculty need are often lacking.

Model of failure's power structure

This model uses three interconnected layers to illustrate how systems of power shape student experiences of failure. The central layer is that of a failure core (blue). The middle layer is that of the “Institutional Power Spiral,” consisting of the twisting and constraining ropes of (1) Resources and Support, (2) Institutional Policy, (3) Subjectivity, and (4) Status and Rank. The outer layer consists of the socio-cultural envelope, created by the combination of various puzzle pieces, such as inequality, stakes, discourse, and stigma.

Please explore this paper, where we look at ways we can visualize and illustrate the power and privilege involved in embracing and learning from failure in the context of higher education.