About Emma

Emma on the University of Leicester picket line with three students
Emma on the University of Leicester picket line with student supporters

About Emma

Emma is a passionate campaigner, academic, historian and friend who puts kindness, compassion and care at the heart of everything she does.

She has worked on a series of precarious contracts at the University of Leicester since 2019 and also been a powerful and effective campaigner for Leicester UCU during that time.

Emma lives in Leicester with her partner Adam and their beautiful dog Gabby.

You can find out more about Emma below.

Emma the Campaigner

Whilst employed on a series of precarious contracts, (2019-2021) Emma was a passionate and impactful campaigner against casualisation at Leicester UCU, joining the branch committee first as part of the equalities team (migrant workers’ representative), and then as vice-chair and branch negotiator.

Drawing on her expertise as a facilitator specializing in conflict management and relational working, Emma convened a series of compassionate listening meetings between the University of Leicester’s senior management team, precariously employed staff and student representatives, during UCU’s Four Fights industrial action campaign in 2019-20. This created a vital space to communicate the human toll of casualized employment in higher education, which is often invisible to both senior management and students. 

Emma innovated Leicester UCU branch communications as vice-chair, initiating a weekly UCU-in-2 video update in 2020, in which key developments were outlined succinctly and in trademark enthusiastic, optimistic style. This proved especially vital to member communications during the pandemic lockdowns, when email overload was especially acute and maintaining vital connections with colleagues was more important than ever. Emma’s UCU-in-2 video update remained a critical tool for Leicester UCU branch communications in their 2021 campaign against mass redundancies. It was so good, it was emulated (but much less effectively) by the University Executive Board, who started doing ExB-in-3 video blogs in her wake. 

Care, compassion and joy are at the heart of Emma’s ethos of union-building, activism and scholarship. She believes these values are critical to creating spaces and opportunities for members of all outlooks, abilities, and capacities to feel safe and supported to participate – contributing views, improving union education and awareness, and taking active roles in campaigns and decision-making.

Emma the Academic

Emma is an historian and sociologist specialising in Indigenous histories of the settler-colonial nation-states of Canada and Australia, and broader histories of race, crime and colonialism across North and South America.

Since migrating to the UK in 2009 from Canada, Emma has been working in the Higher Education sector, in both pre- and post-1992 Institutions (including the University of Hertfordshire and University of Leicester). She has worked in academic, academic-related roles including as a research associate, teaching fellow and lecturer as well as in non-academic roles.

Emma the Friend

A black and white staffie boxer cross wearing a pink UCU hat

Emma has lived in Leicester for 13 years and loves to bring people in her neighbourhood and community together through their love for many things, but especially dogs. Few people who have ever frequented Leicester’s Victoria Park don’t know Gabby, Emma’s 8-year old staffy-boxer cross. 

Emma says…

I work from an ethic of compassion and a practice of critical hope. Specifically informed by critical Indigenous scholarship and expertise, I believe in the power of diverse approaches to making change, from diplomacy in the spirit of generosity, to taking direct action to hold power to account. In this, I value building trust, clear communication, and mutual aid as cornerstones of any social movement, including trade unionism.

Emma Battell-Lowman

Find out more

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