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
My current role is as the technician with responsibility for those practical classes that fall under ecology and zoology, although my background is in molecular biology so I’m often involved in molecular biology and microbiology sessions as well.
I completed my PhD looking at how to improve crop water use efficiency via modulation of the number of stomatal pores in the epidermis of barley, at the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Sheffield University. This was followed by a brief stint as a secondary school teacher before I joined the University of Lincoln in my current role in 2018.
I decided to become a technician as I really enjoy the hands-on aspects of science and I was also seeking a career with a more favourable work-life balance after being a teacher.
My current role is great as it’s very varied in terms of the different practical classes we offer here. Also, the Ecology and Conservation practical classes provide me with many opportunities to work outdoors which I really enjoy, even if the weather is often uncooperative!
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.
I’m a PhD student in the School of Life Sciences, studying Palaeontology, more specifically the evolution of complexity. I started my palaeo career at the University of Bristol, completing an integrated masters in Palaeobiology. I have been involved in a number of projects tackling a wide range of paleontological questions, from the position of ctenophores in the tree of life, to 3D reconstructions of modern life’s closes cousins, Ediacarans. My favourite project so far has been a study of fossilised poo from the Triassic, which we used to create a food web for a 205-million-year-old ecosystem!
One of my favourite parts of Palaeontology is how varied it is. As a discipline, it utilises any methods it can get its hands, from geology to chemistry, and so each new question can lead you down so many different paths when trying to answer it! Palaeontology always fascinated me as a child, mainly because it seemed as close as one could get to studying real-life dragons. It combines both science and a bit of imagination to picture and understand all these distant bygone lands, that all satisfyingly operate under unifying biological principles.
I have loved furthering my studies at Lincoln, especially with the support of my wonderful supervisors, being so welcoming and helpful!
There is a great community of post-grad students, always up for a weekly coffee break and chat, which has been lovely during the pandemic…
I never have a good answer to “What is your favourite dinosaur?”, a response which I feel I should have locked and loaded, ready to answer any 7-year-old that asks. I prefer a good mammoth…..
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.
We are going to run a series of Spotlights on committee members, staff and students to raise the profile of colleagues in the School and get to know each other now we are socially distanced and a lot of us are based at home. Here Alice Buckner, one of our research postgraduates and a PGR rep, introduces herself.
After studying BSc Bioveterinary Science at the University of Lincoln I knew I wanted to continue my academic journey with an MSc, and where better than at the very university I have grown to love and call home! I am currently working my way through MSc Bioveterinary Science by Research studying the parasite liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) in cattle and sheep. This really is the ideal course for me with the perfect level of freedom in developing my own research project alongside the support provided by the PGR community.
The School of Life Sciences has really been key in my development throughout my time here, not just in terms of teaching, but in the wider perspective of support. I started off my time at the university in 2017 as an extremely shy individual, but through the careful nurturing and unending support of the staff I have become the more self-confident and outgoing person I am today. I have been able to do things I never believed I could do at the start of my degree – I’ve been elected one of the course reps for both my BSc and MSc degrees, I’ve worked alongside my peers and tutors to run the Bioveterinary Science Society, and I have engaged in extracurricular courses which have really helped me grow as a person and scientist.
The current pandemic has really shown the resilience and determination of the staff and students here and I think this Spotlight is a great way of introducing us to each other and ensuring the continuity of the community feeling of the School I have grown to love.
Despite never meeting the majority of the people on my course, I feel as if I am getting to know them with my time as a PGR rep enabling me to be a voice communicating their feedback to staff and student representatives. From previous experience, the staff really take into account student feedback and ensure their views are included in decision making. I can’t think of another place I’d rather be living or studying and know that my experiences here stand me in good stead for wherever my future may take me.
In our first meeting of 2021 we discussed our forthcoming submission for the Athena Swan award. We are trying to access all the various data that we need, which will need to be sourced in some cases directly from staff, but mostly our Human Resources department will provide. Meanwhile, lots of equality and diversity activity is happening behind the scenes, both at the school and at the college level. At the college level, the university launched a call last summer 2020 for members to join the College Inclusion Committee. Now that the work of the college committee is under way, we, as equality and diversity committee at the school level, have a more direct and simpler route to escalate any actions that go beyond the school remit.
Key discussion topics centred around our forthcoming coaching scheme in the last phase before the official launch, the results from our latest staff culture survey, and the re-launch of the early career researchers committee. There’s lots more work that should come to fruition in the coming months.
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