Gurnam Singh

Gurnam Singh


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    Personal profile



    Gurnam Singh is Associate Professor of Attainment at Coventry University (0.4) since Sept 2019. Previously he was Associate Professor of Social Work (0.5) and Post Graduate Research  Lead (0.5) within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University. Also, he is Honorary Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, Visiting Professor of Social Work at the University of Chester and Visiting Fellow in Race and Education at the University of Arts, London.

    Prior to entering academia in 1993, he worked as a professional social worker and community activist. He completed his PhD from the University of Warwick in 2004 on anti-racist social work. In 2009 in recognition of his contribution to Higher Education he was awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship from the UK Higher Education Academy. Over the past 20 years he has secured research projects in excess of £500,000 and has presented over 120 papers at national and international conferences, many as an invited keynote speaker.

    In 2013 he published a book ‘Acts of knowing: Critical pedagogy in, against and beyond the university. Bloomsbury’ His latest book, published earlier this year (2020) by Palgrave Macmillian, is entitled Anti-Racist Social Work Practice: International Perspectives.

    In 2009 he was commissioned by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to complete a literature synthesis on BAME retention and success and in 2010-12 he led on a large HEA funded project on ‘disparities in student attainment (DISA); both projects have become important reference points for the sector work on the BAME attainment/awarding gap.

    He has worked with a number of bodies in various guises, such as the HEFCE, UUK, OfS, HEA, LFHE, Advanced HE, WONKHE and various universities, to develop understanding and strategies for addressing ongoing concerns about racism and higher education, both in relation to students and staff. He is a specialist adviser to the Steering Group for the Higher Education Race Action Group (HEERAG)

    More recently he was commissioned to play the role of ‘critical friend’ to a number of projects that were funded under the HEFCE ‘Addressing Barriers to Student Success’ catalyst programme. These were ‘Student Attainment Project led by Derby, DRIVER (Data Responsive Initiatives as a Vehicle for achieving Equity in Results) led by Coventry University and Changing Mindsets: Reducing stereotype threat as a barrier to student success – led by the University of Portsmouth.

    Area of Expertise:

    Race, racism, critical pedagogy, social inclusion, educational disparities, critical social work, higher education development.

    Research Interests

    Emancipatory research and practice; decolonising pedagogy; anti-racist practice; race equality in higher education and social work; understanding and tackling hate. 

    Vision Statement


    I describe myself as an academic activist in that what inspires me both in my teaching and research is the desire to transform individuals and society. I always seek to deploy a critical sociological imagination in my work as well as espousing democratic, humanitarian and universal principles. My belief is that committed scholarship has the potential to enable human societies to respond to the challenge of all kinds of inequalities, at the local, national, or global levels. My basic world view is that human beings are both capable of doing terrible things but also, given the right conditions, the can do amazingly positive things. My challenge in life is to understand and extend those conditions that can facilitate all humans to become more fully human, that is to live creative, caring and convivial beings.


    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

    Education/Academic qualification

    Sociology and Social Work, Doctorate, University of Warwick

    Award Date: 1 Mar 2005

    Sociology, MSc, University of Bradford

    Award Date: 2 Aug 1993

    Social Work, Degree, Leeds Beckett University

    Award Date: 1 Jun 1985


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