UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Action taken by the UCL Astrophysics Group to prevent bullying and harassment

19 July 2019

The UCL Astrophysics Group is working hard to prevent bullying and harassment to ensure UCL is a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students and staff.

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By working closely with the UCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, members of the Astrophysics group proposed the current high-level task force (known as Preventing Sexual Misconduct Strategy Group) and this has led to a number of changes and ongoing work. Their efforts were instrumental, for example, in delivering the new ‘Report + Support’ tool which launched in February 2019 as part of the Full Stop Campaign to make university-wide cultural and behavioural changes. These initiatives have helped reform how reports of unacceptable behaviour are handled at UCL, to remove the barriers to reporting and to provide improved support to those affected.

The Astrophysics Group has also trained staff volunteers to be a ‘listening group’, acting as an ear to students and postdocs, and established the Group welfare committee to oversee further efforts to improve the working environment. This resulted in a peer mentoring scheme for PhD students which will soon be extended to postdocs.

As a mark of success, many initiatives led by the Group have been adopted by UCL Physics & Astronomy Department. The department champions and funds PhD and Research Associate networks, as recommended by Project Juno. Physics and Astronomy were the first adopters of ‘Where do you draw the line?’ and ‘Taking the Lead’ bullying and harassment prevention and intervention workshops, that have now been rolled out to over 2,500 staff across UCL. In addition, members of the Astrophysics Group have taken major roles in improving the way scientific conferences support equality and diversity. The “London Code of Conduct”, adopted by major scientific symposia and consortia involving thousands of international researchers, originated in a conference run by the Group in 2015.

The Astrophysics Group, among other departmental groups within UCL, remain committed to taking a proactive approach locally and to create meaningful change at UCL. In this way, the commitment and hard work of the Astrophysics Group is nurturing an equitable environment in which all students and staff are welcome and can achieve their full potential.