Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Board Winter Term Update

17 December 2020

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Leads for SHS, Eleanor Day and Anson Mackay, provide an update on the tremendous amount of work going on at Faculty and Department level to progress the Faculty's EDI agenda.

It has been a busy term for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Board and we’ve been blown away by the commitment and tenacity of staff and students across the Faculty working to progress our EDI agenda. At a Faculty level we have developed an ambitious EDI Action Plan, and while we are starting to make in-roads, we recognise that there is still so much to do. One completed Action includes an agreement that PhD students in SHS on departmental funding will be given the same access to paid maternity and parental leave as UKRI-funded students. But the Action Plan by necessity is also subject to change; the launch of the UCL Covid-19 Career Support Scheme has already replaced one of our Actions, to develop a small-grants scheme to support parents and carers. The Scheme seeks to mitigate adverse impact caused by the pandemic that results in lost work productivity that may cause longer term career harm without additional support from UCL. Take-up from within SHS could have been stronger, and we recommend that any academic or professional services staff member who thinks their career has been negatively impacted by Covid-19, to check their eligibility, and consider making an application in January (deadlines 7th and 21st  January 2021).

Our Departments have worked hard to develop for the first-time comprehensive department-level EDI-focused Action Plans. Furthermore, departmental homepages are currently being updated to ensure their websites foreground their commitment to equity and inclusion. Brilliant new modules with an explicit EDI focus have been set up, including Professor Parama Chaudhury’s ‘Gender and Ethnicity in the Economy’, while all departments are working to make their curricula more inclusive. Many new student-staff departmental networks have been established that have already held a range of exciting activities and events, including during Black History Month, the “My Soundscapes” initiative in Geography. History of Art hosted an event on “Rediscovering Black Portraiture” with opera singer and broadcaster Peter Brathwaite and History held an on-line panel event dedicated to Trans histories. And in what we think was a first, a joint faculty SHS-Laws Queer online Escape Room social event was held in November.

A major goal for departments both this term and in the coming years, is to eliminate the undergraduate Award Gap by 2024.  The reasons for the gap are complex, and we are currently working on module-level data to identify any issues related to forms of assessment. Next term we will begin to focus on supporting fair and equitable recruitment practices, helping departments to do all they can to increase diversity of new hires. We will also be collaborating with Widening Participation leads to ensure that staff working on widening participation initiatives have access to high quality support.

Finally, we were pleased to be able to play a role in the Dean meeting all her Pledges to Promote Race Equality in 2020. This year an equally ambitious set of Pledges have been made, and we look forward to working with her to meet these in 2021.

  • To support each Department in the Faculty in developing and implementing an annual EDI plan with a particular focus on race equality
  • To mobilise the energy and attention of the leadership of the Faculty in addressing racism and race equality by devoting (at least) three meetings a year of the SHS Senior Leadership Team to equality, diversity and inclusion, in addition to regular meetings of the SHS EDI Strategy Board
  • To intensify our work to significantly increase the recruitment of BAME academic and senior professional services staff across the Faculty e.g. through use of Fair Recruitment Specialists, developing Positive Action approaches, and the Accelerate to Leadership programme
  • To provide forums for student discussions of race and racism within the Faculty, including BAME student-staff networks, and via the establishment of an SHS EDI Student Board (to shadow the SHS EDI Strategy Board)
  • To continue a programme of cross-departmental work towards the elimination of the BAME awarding gap
  • To run, for the second year, a 5 week summer term online reading and discussion group open to all staff in SHS, on ‘Racism and Racialization in the Social and Historical Sciences: educating ourselves’, convened by the Dean. The focus in summer 2021 will be ‘Race, gender and the politics of intersectionality’.
  • To establish two new Faculty-funded scholarships for PhD students from under-represented racialized/ minoritized ethnic groups for entry in 2021
  • To continue the work of the Faculty group on ‘Diversifying Postgraduate Research’ to develop an action plan to increase the numbers of BAME PhD students and to transform how we recruit, supervise and support PhD students
  • To continue the work of the Faculty ‘Diversity, Difference and Inequalities’ strategic initiative to increase research and teaching around race and racism across the Faculty
  • To convene another SHS Decolonising the Curriculum week
  • To continue to support the development and work of the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialization, and the launch of a new MA programme in Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Studies
  • To contribute social science expertise to research on the experiences of Chinese and East Asian students at UCL, in partnership with UCL SU.

Wishing everyone a peaceful break

Eleanor Day & Anson Mackay,

(EDI leads for the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences)