Dr Jan Etienne – feminist theorist and lecturer in psychosocial studies 

To commemorate the College’s bicentenary in 2023, we’re showcasing 200 ‘Birkbeck Effects’ which capture the incredible stories of our vibrant and diverse community, highlighting their achievements and impact on the world. 

Dr Jan Etienne

Jan is a feminist theorist, a retired lecturer in psychosocial studies at Birkbeck and has a long history of serving her community. She has worked as a community volunteer and housing support officer with Ujima Housing, which was Britain’s oldest and largest black-led housing association, providing accommodation and work for minority ethnic youngsters in the inner city. 

She has contributed to the academic understanding of lifelong learning, an interest which began when she was appointed as a research assistant for a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council to study lifelong learning and the Women’s Institute, the largest voluntary organisation of women in the UK. 

In 1994, she joined Birkbeck as an Extra Mural Studies teacher and was part of the teaching team awarded the Times Higher Education ‘Widening Participation Initiative of the Year’ award. Jan also studied for her PhD in Birkbeck’s Department of Social Policy and Education. 

In 2017, she was awarded a ‘Colours and Honours’ certificate from the Birkbeck Students’ Union, a prestigious award where the Students’ Union honours people for their contributions to the Birkbeck community. 

Her book, Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of First Generation African Caribbean Women (2016) is heralded as a ‘must readfor anyone interested in the social dimension to learning and the state of Britain today. Jan was made a Fellow of Birkbeck in 2019 and chairs Birkbeck’s Womanism, Activism, Higher Education Research Network 


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