UCL Earth Sciences


Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME)

One of our key priorities is to ensure that all our Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff feel welcome and supported.

We are also committed to increasing diversity within our Department where already we are highly international, with our students and staff coming from many different countries, cultures and backgrounds.

First Point of Contact: Dr Maxim Ballmer

UCL was one of only eight institutions to receive a Race Equality Charter Mark Bronze Award for  its work in Higher Education. Yet UCL has identified a significant attainment gap between home BME students obtaining a "good" final degree result when compared to home white students. Information on the UCL Earth Sciences attainment gap is being sought, and an action plan to eliminate the gap will be applied.  BME representatives for students and staff sit on our EDI committee.

Key UCL Contacts and Sources of Information

  • Race Equality & Race Equality Steering Group
  • Both Earth Sciences and UCL have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to Racial and Xenophobic Harassment, and key contacts can be found in the hyperlink. Even if you are not directly affected, but have seen someone else being harassed, do not let it go unchallenged, but become an Active Bystander
  • RaceMatters@UCL is for networking, peer support, sharing ideas and articles of interest, forging scholarly connections and collaborations, organising formal and social events, and positively influencing policy and practice on ‘race’ equality at UCL


Black Lives Matter and racism in academia 
Letter from Dr Sebastian S. Groh, department BAME group co-ordinator.

Dear All,

 I hope this email finds you holding up well. I, and I hope many others in this department, have been absolutely appalled by the racism, violence, and system oppression levelled against Black people not only in the US, but everywhere in the world. Systemic racism permeates our entire society, and academia is no exception: only 140 of the UK’s 21,000 university professors are black (and only 25 of those are female), BAME students overwhelmingly elect not to do PhDs (and cannot get funded ones either).  I strongly encourage everyone to read through at least some of the tweets in the #BlackInTheIvory hashtag on Twitter, detailing some of the experiences of our Black students and colleagues in academia.

 Geosciences (including palaeontology) is a field that has long had problems with racism and the Race Gap: a Nature article about the problem (e.g. 90% of all geoscience degrees in the US go to White people), and is full of historical figures that directly contributed to exploitation/held/acted on racist beliefs: 1, 2, 3, 4 (only a few examples). It is our responsibility and in everyone’s interest to make Geosciences and our department a place where Black students and staff feel safe, welcomed and can strive.

 There is currently a movement to take time off research & other tasks tomorrow, June 10th, to educate ourselves and others about racism instead and try to be actively anti-racist (more info here and here). You can also participate in a Wikithon tomorrow to make Wikipedia less racist: link. With the help of several other UCL staff members I have compiled a huge list of resources about Black Lives Matter which can serve as a great starting point – also includes a wealth of links to practical things you can do.

 Here are a few key messages from these documents that I encourage everyone to read, reflect and act upon:

Educate yourselves and others about racism, systemic oppression and anti-blackness (see Google Doc above as a starting point) If you see harmful behaviour anywhere, be it amongst your peers or in the classroom, challenge it, even if the conversations could get uncomfortable: How to be an active bystander. White Silence is harmful – speak up! Diversify your talks and conferences – don’t know where to start? Here is a huge list of geoscientists of colour! And here is one of Black palaeontologists! For lecturers – make use of the UCL toolkit to bridge the BAME Awarding Gap Get involved in organising against racism on and off-camp and offer your skills to organisations, groups and people fighting against racism and oppression Treat Black peers and people of colour with the respect they deserve and acknowledging their experiences as real regardless of whether racism is overt or covert. Just because you haven’t seen or experienced it, it doesn’t mean that it’s less real.
All the best,