In this short series of interviews, Vikki Hill (Project Associate: Changing Mindsets) and Dr Gurnam Singh (Principal Lecturer in Social Work at Coventry University and Visiting Fellow for Race and Education at UAL) navigate key themes of the Changing Mindsets project – risk, intelligence and belonging – and consider their powerful impact to ensure equitable outcomes for students in higher education.

Navigating with the Birds: Risk 

Dr Gurnam Singh speaks about the importance of embracing risk in a risk-averse learning environment and considers how Changing Mindsets can encourage students to go off the beaten track rather than follow a ‘Sat-Nav’ education system.

Film credit: Gareth Johnson

Navigating with the Birds: Intelligence 

In challenging notions of reducible, innate intelligence, Dr Gurnam Singh considers what makes us human and what is means to be ‘a thinking being.’ Building on the work of Professor Carol Dweck, he offers his thoughts on the contested term ‘talent’ and the relationship between mindsets, limits and virtue to explore human potential.

Film credit: Gareth Johnson

Navigating with the Birds: Belonging 

Dr Gurnam Singh explores how a sense of belonging can allow us to move from a position of ‘being’ to one of ‘becoming’. Through efforts to decolonise the curriculum, we can disrupt relations of dominance and begin to construct positions of ‘otherness’ that are enriching and affirming to all students.

Film credit: Gareth Johnson


Cowden, S. and Singh, G. (2013). ‘Sat-Nav Education: A Means to an End or an End to Meaning?’ in Stephen Cowden and Gurnam Singh (Eds). Acts of Knowing: Critical Pedagogy in, Against and Beyond the University (pp: 41-60). London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Derrida, J. (2001). Writing and difference. Routledge. London

Dweck, C. (2017). Mindset: changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Hachette: UK.

Fanon, F. (1986). Black skin, white masks. Pluto Press. London.

Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The Continuum Publishing Company: New York.


Disclaimer:  the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the values of the University of Portsmouth or the extended Partnership.