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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

EmmaLucy Cole is a UK-based speaker, writer, explorer and biker. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy as a lecturer, and is researching towards a PhD through the University of Helsinki. EmmaLucy is co-director of the Vicarious Festival, an immersive celebration of cultural diversity through travel literature and photography.

After over two decades spent studying and representing North African and Middle Eastern cultures, in 2011 EmmaLucy decided to sell everything she owned in order to spend six weeks with a Bedouin tribe in Sinai, learning Arabic and researching local culture. Two years later she finally left, not only having gained a ginger Bedouin cat (called Bryan) and a myriad of stories, but also witnessing first-hand some of the ways in which marginalised groups can be misrepresented.

With this habit of visiting places and forgetting to leave, she has developed the concept of Downward Exploration: rather than travelling long distances and seeing many places superficially, this type of exploration allows us to focus in-depth on communities and local environments, learning about the cultures, habits, food and history – and forming connections which allow for deeper understanding and more ethical representations.

In 2018 EmmaLucy attended the Adventure Travel Film Festival in London and decided that motorcycles could be a powerful tool for connecting with people in marginalised cultures; crossing gender divides and enabling mobility and independence whilst on the road researching. She passed her test within a few months, bought a Triumph, and began exploring. In August 2019 she presented a talk at the Overland Event UK about the joys and challenges of being a solo woman researcher, explorer and biker.

Description of research and teaching

Since 2006 I have taught adult classes internationally, with a proven track-record in developing the knowledge and confidence of adult learners in non-HE and HE contexts in the UK, Canada, USA, Egypt, Morocco and Norway. I currently work at the University of Exeter, UK on the INTO International Foundation course: Liberal Arts module, and alongside my teaching am a literature PhD researcher at the University of Helsinki, writer, explorer, public speaker, and co-founder of a literature festival.


My BA(Hons) Drawing and Applied Arts included an extended Visual Culture dissertation (graded 78%) which explored the representation of women through film, painting and performance art. I went on to study MA English Literature at the University of Bristol - where I was PGT pt student rep - and as a result of research into Bedouin characters for the dissertation, I decided to spend 2 years living with a Bedouin tribe in Egypt, experiencing the challenges of living and studying abroad. This unique research led me into my current PhD in Literature looking at female travel writers and the ways in which their writing represents Middle Eastern peoples and cultures. I deliver public lectures about my literary research so am experienced at creating ways to discuss literary content with varied groups.


In addition to my studies, I have worked for over 4 years at the University of Exeter and as a result of my teaching, facilitation and 1:1 support for students, I have completed LTHE 1&2 and been awarded AFHEA. I am in the process of applying for full fellowship, demonstrating my commitment to a deeper involvement with current pedagogy and educational theories, and ability to actively assess the effectiveness of my own teaching practice. I regularly request anonymous feedback from students and common comments are that I am ‘engaging’, ‘involve everyone’ and give ‘clear explanations’.


Having taught internationally in Arabic culture for nearly twenty years, I am efficient at lesson planning and course delivery and my teaching practice is supplemented by my passion for travel and exploring. I regularly deliver high-quality public lectures and workshops to engage and inspire others to be more open-minded towards other cultures. The lectures are often high-profile and demand detailed planning, confidence and flexibility in delivery, an ability to respond quickly to challenging questions, and the capacity to keep from 6 to 400 people of diverse backgrounds entertained and interested. Recent venues include the Royal Geographical Society, Jersey Arts Centre and the Overland Event as well as 6th form groups in schools in the South West.


Vicarious Festival, the UK’s new and innovative travel literature and photography festival (celebrating cultural diversity), of which I am co-founder, allows me to network with authors, academics, publishers, filmmakers and journalists, engaging me in wider conversations about decolonising curricula, unconscious bias, the ethics of travel, and intercultural communication. Along with my partner, I have helped to develop a robust marketing strategy, innovative ideas and we are generating an enormous amount of interest from the international travel writing community. We also made the decision to defy industry standards and pay authors significantly above average for their attendance in order to demonstrate their value and develop a supportive and entrepreneurial community of writers and photographers.

External positions

Liberal Arts Teacher, INTO University of Exeter

6 Jan 2020 → …

Fields of Science

  • 6122 Literature studies
  • Travel literature
  • Ethnography
  • Literature