Coventry University is looking back to move forward with Equality, Inclusivity and Diversity
As part of this year’s Black History Month, Coventry University is taking a step back to look at the developments that have taken place in the last year and how they’ve had a profound impact on the way we move forward as an inclusive and diverse university.
In 2020 not only did the world deal with a global health pandemic, but the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, which prompted outrage and a demand for change.
As one of the largest providers of undergraduate education in the UK, we know that the diversity of our colleagues and students is one of our greatest strengths and last year with a renewed sense of determination and vigour, change started to take shape.
Firstly, a refreshed ten-year strategy which focuses on the university’s journey to 2030 has clearly defined its mission for creating better futures for all, with the ongoing aim of establishing equality and diversity for everyone associated with the university. One of our five values states:
We are working hard to harness the power and potential of different cultures, backgrounds, abilities and experiences of our students, colleagues and partners to create better opportunities.
Work is already underway to embed this and our other values as we implement the 2030 Group Strategy and we are currently undertaking a major piece of work around the Decolonisation of the Curriculum, which forms part of the larger Curriculum 2025 project.
Decolonising the Curriculum is about the university’s teaching and learning materials being developed so they are more accurate, inclusive and interculturally responsive. This seeks to cover the initial development or curation of resources that are designed to support academics in their immediate teaching environment with their students.
The challenge is not just about taking the practical measures to change a curriculum and ultimately transform the racial disadvantages that exist at UK universities, but to create a shift in culture and mind-set, adjusting perceptions and using awareness and knowledge to deliver change for teaching in real and significant ways.
A specialist team is focused on exploring how Decolonising the Curriculum is one aspect within the broader project of decolonising the university, and the latter's implications for teaching and organisational theory, institutional governance and the student experience.
In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted again the racism, discrimination and inequality experienced by Black people around the globe.
Earlier this year, Coventry University set up the Equity Accelerate Group (EAG) which will seek to identify and address the inequalities experienced by staff and students.
The group, made up of a cross section of eight representatives from the Staff Networks, Organisational Development and Curriculum 2025 teams, is chaired by Annette Hay who is the BME (Black Minority and Ethnic) Staff Network Lead.
Annette also sits on the Race Equality Council as Chair and contributes to four other Equality, Diversity and Inclusion action groups and boards.
The EAG have identified a number of priority areas, and aim to:
- To determine key actions that will accelerate the establishment and completion of a comprehensive Equity, Diversity and Inclusion governance structure which look to include Group-wide Council.
- To explore how the university can create more inclusive recruitment, selection and progression practice and process.
- To define a suite of Organisational Development tools that are flexible, meaningful and accessible across all staff and potentially for students.
- To explore how to embed and accelerate the impact of the Curriculum 2025 project.
The work of the Equity Accelerate Group will continue for the foreseeable future and already in the first year there has been a pilot that focuses on the delivery of a new and actively inclusive recruitment process. Our EDI governance structure is now operational and we engage with university Senior Leadership and the Board on such issues. There is more joined-up working with other parts of CU Group.
Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, says the university is a force for change.
Our colleagues and students are our greatest strength and as an organisation that actively seeks to help people fulfil their potential by widening access to high-quality education, we know everyone can make a contribution to society regardless of the colour of their skin.
Everyone should know that there is still work to be done to solve the structural inequalities that exist across society and we actively working to address equality, diversity and inclusion and are playing our part in moving society forward.
Visit Coventry University’s Black History Month webpages.