We have received the exciting news that our Bronze Athena Swan application was successful!
After lots of hard work from the whole EDI committee, our application was submitted in January this year, and we recently received confirmation of the award.
Moving forwards, our various working groups comprising of Culture Survey, Data, and Mentoring Subgroups plan to meet regularly to discuss plans to push our commitment forwards and begin to implement the various Action Plans agreed upon for our successful application.
The Mentoring Subgroup welcomes Dilkushi de Alwis Pitts, who will serve as a representative from the School of Geography.
In light of this great achievement, the whole committee is now excited to push forwards with implementing the ideas and actions outlined in our application.
For those who are interested, the application is available below:
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.
The committee met today and the main point of discussion on the agenda was the topic of decolonising the curriculum. As equality, diversity and inclusion committee we have been asked by our Head of School to consider this topic alongside the wider work that is happening at the College and university-wide level. From September 2021, the university-wide Decolonisation of the Curriculum Oversight Group will be reorganised into a Working Group consisting of champions appointed by each school, which will be responsible for advancing work on decolonisation of the curriculum, and a Steering Committee, which will provide strategic leadership to the project.
While this work is developing, and recognising the need to take action now in time for the beginning of next academic term, we are going to start by raising awareness and sharing best-practice examples of decolonisation of the curriculum at our next school meeting in September. As always, we will share our progress on this blog in future posts.
Our meeting this month focused on the delay to our application for the Athena Swan submission. After discussions within our committee, last month we decided that we would rather delay our submission until later in the year. This was a set back on our ambition and target date, however all the work put in by the committee to complete the application will still be valid for our revised application for the new submission date.
Meanwhile, the committee also considered an important report that was kindly shared with us by the Plant and Animal Sciences Department of the University of Sheffield. The report considers the topic of decolonising the curriculum. There is other ongoing work across the University of Lincoln taking into account this important topic, and as a committee, we will highlight best practice to share with the rest of the School of Life Sciences before the teaching resumes in the autumn term.
With all the activity for the upcoming Athena Swan submission and other teaching related duties, I missed posting about our committee meeting last 1st April 2021. For the last and yesterday’s meeting, on 6th May, the sole focus of our discussions has the been the submission. We discussed the draft, which we jointly wrote, and the Action Plan, written by our chair, Jenny Dunn.
We do have other news to report though. Between the last two meetings, the coaching subgroup, led by our senior technician, Alex Aitken and our school research lead, Mat Goddard, launched the brand new School of Life Sciences Coaching Scheme. The scheme is open to all from postgraduate students to academics and technicians and we are actively recruiting mentees as well as mentors. If you’d like to know more or ask any questions, please email the team at CoachingSLS@lincoln.ac.uk.
As with our last meeting, this month the committee focused, for the large part, on going through our draft application for the upcoming Athena Swan school-level submission. With the internal submission deadline for application approaching, we revised the draft text and Action Plan. A lot of work has been going behind the scenes to obtain the data needed for the application. The data encompass students (undergraduates and postgraduates), academic, technical and professional staff as well as applicants for our degrees and candidates for new positions.
During the meeting, we discussed a new draft policy on committee representation and composition which we will pass on for discussion and approval to the School Management Committee. This is to ensure that committee representation is reviewed regularly, reflects any changes in staff, and ensures principles of equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded in every committee.
Our meeting this month was spent, for the large part, going through our draft application for the upcoming Athena Swan school-level submission. We learnt that, in a proactive move, Advanced Higher Education has moved the application deadline to the 28th May 2021 in recognition of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the Self-Assessment Team, in particular the closure of schools and the most recent lockdown of January 2021. In addition, the application will also feature a specific extension to the application word limit to consider the impact of Covid-19 on the application.
During the meeting, we identified a number of key challenges and actions which will inform our application.
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