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Maha Bali

Credentials: Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo

Maha Bali headshot

Maha Bali is Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. She has a PhD in Education from the University of Sheffield, UK. She is co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org (a grassroots movement that challenges academic gatekeeping at conferences) and co-facilitator of Equity Unbound (an equity-focused, open, connected intercultural learning curriculum, which has also branched into academic community activities Continuity with Care and Socially Just Academia). She writes and speaks frequently about social justice, critical pedagogy, and open and online education. She blogs regularly at blog.mahabali.me and tweets @bali_maha.


How Can We Infuse Care, Equity and Agency throughout Education?

Embodying Care and Equity

“To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.”
–bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

In this interactive keynote, participants will explore the different levels and manifestations of care, equity and agency in educational institutions and informal educational contexts, sharing their own experiences and reflecting on the experiences shared by Maha.

In 2020, Bali & Zamora explored the questions of “What is care without equity? What is equity without care?”. We cannot focus on one without the other, but we also need to recognize that care and equity (or social justice more broadly) are complex and multidimensional.

For example, how do we differentiate between what Noddings considers relational and natural care and virtuous/ethical care, and where in education can we nurture care that is reciprocal and fulfilling? How do we avoid undervalued, unrewarded, affective labor that drains and exploits us (teachers, faculty developers, leaders) and instead create space for us to pursue labors of love that energize and fulfill us? How do we foster communities of care at all levels that help sustain us all when we forget to care for ourselves?

And how do we promote and advocate for social justice in its various dimensions, economic, cultural and political (Fraser) and ensure that policies intended to promote social justice are embodied and enacted at various levels rather than becoming tokenistic and instrumental?

What is the role of agency in promoting more socially just educational spaces, for students, teachers, and support staff such as faculty developers and librarians?

Intentionally Equitable Hospitality (Bali, Caines, Hogue, DeWaard & Friedrich, 2019) is an aspirational approach to ensuring processes that center social justice are enacted with care in design as well as in the moment of facilitation. We will explore the benefits and challenges of this approach, and consider its application in different contexts.