Our Athena Swan bronze application was submitted to Advance HE last week, so the committee attention naturally turned to tackling the detailed Action Plan which is core to the application. The various subgroups (culture survey, mentoring, and data) will be now meeting independently to discuss how to map progress against, and achieve the Action Plan.
Iain informed the committee that he attended a workshop organised by the Racial and Ethnic Equality and Diversity (REED) Ecological Network of the British Ecological Society on decolonising the curriculum at their annual meeting in December 2021. Progress on this will follow also from the recent consultation the University is running on this, and more generally on our teaching and learning strategy.
Jenny and Iain also met the EDI representative of the Department of Geography, Dr Dilkushi de Alwis Pitts. Following the merger of the Schools of Life Sciences and Geography, a new School of Life and Environmental Sciences has been created. To streamline work between our newly formed Departments of Life Sciences and Geography, Dilkushi will shortly be joining our committee, and a call will be open for other members of the Dept of Geography to join us.
We plan to reflect this on our blog soon, as well as invite any colleague or student from Geography
At our December meeting, the first item for discussion was around decolonising the curriculum. Several members of the committee had been at the annual meeting of the British Ecological Society, were they attended a workshop on that topic. This is a journey in progress at the moment, and we are awaiting further guidance from the University around appointing a champion, a working group and having a specific remit. We moved onto workloads, noting that we are awaiting an update, following a dispute raised by the union to which the University has yet to respond.
Since our last meeting, the committee circulated our yearly culture survey to gauge perceptions on the School of Life Sciences working environment and culture. In total we received 52 responses from 38 academics, 8 technical and professional staff and 6 PDRA/PGR. We will be presenting the culture survey results to the School meeting in February 2022, and we will also be inviting Xiaotong Zhu or Rhianne-Ebony Sterling-Morris of the Lincoln Equality and Attainment Project (LEAP) to attend and give a short presentation on intercultural awareness and micro-aggression.
Finally, following our merger with the School of Geography – we are now the School of Life and Environmental Sciences with a Department of Life Sciences and a Department of Geography – we discussed how to merge the respective Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committees. Our Chair, Jenny Dunn, will write to the our colleagues in Geography, Theresa Mercer and Harriet Moore, to discuss this in the new year.
After a search for a new member of our committee, today we welcomed Dr Manabu Sakamoto. We then discussed at length how to define an early career researcher. We are mindful of not discriminating against age (and therefore time since PhD) or job role (teaching and scholarship role versus teaching and research role), and we have now a working definition that we will share with the Research Committee at the School level. The reason for defining an early career researcher, is that we want to rejuvenate the early career research committee in the new year.
The next item on the agenda were the student and staff culture surveys: while we are developing a new student culture survey, we are in the process of transferring our staff culture survey from our previous platform, Qualtrics, to our new platform, JISC. As every year, the staff survey should be launched by the end of November.
Finally, we also had an update on Decolonising the Curriculum. While we do not have a Champion for this role yet, we had a group discussion on the various representation, from within and outside the EDI committee, that we would like to see on this new working group.
At our meeting this month we welcomed a new member, Dr Jonathan Hughes, representing the technical team on the committee. One of the first items for discussion was the Athena Swan application. Following a delay in our original submission, the application is now with the Eleanor Glanville Centre team for comments and feedback. We expect to revise our application and submit it by the end of November 2021.
The next item on our agenda was “Decolonising the curriculum”. Work on this topic has started at the university level but we have been asked to consider the implications for our teaching strategy, relevant policies as well as equality, diversity and inclusion at the School level. Iain Stott, Carol Rea and Graziella Iossa will represent the EDI committee on a school-wide working group including programme leaders and members of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Committee. The first actions of the working group will include a statement of intent, identifying a champion to take this work forward, and preparing a presentation for the School meeting in October.
There were a few changes in committee membership. Alex Aitken and Paul Eady stepped down and the committee would like to thank them both for their hard work, especially for running the culture survey and establishing a coaching scheme. Meanwhile Ambrose Tinarwo and Mat Goddard joined the mentoring subgroup, and Oliver Burman joined the culture survey subgroup.
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