A team of student representatives for the English Literature and Creative writing department’s EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity) committee have organised a virtual conference for the 20th to the 22nd of August this year.
The ‘Beyond Six Characteristics: EDI for the Modern University’ conference will aim to discuss ideas on how to create a more inclusive university campus as well as to celebrate current innovations. The name ‘Beyond Six Characteristics’ stems from how the phrase ‘six protected characteristics’ is often used in EDI discourse; however, this conference aims to go ‘beyond’ this definition to include all nine protected groups encompassed in the Equality Act 2010 as well as critically discuss who might be excluded from the ‘six characteristics’.
EDI within higher education is a subject deserving of serious consideration and scrutiny. As the team of students organising the conference point out on their webpage, reports from Advance HE highlight significant statistics which show how more can be done in terms of equality and diversity within universities. For instance, only 10.3% of HE staff identified as BAME in 2019/20 and despite 57.2% of all students studying in the UK identifying as female in the 2020 survey, 73.3% of professors were men.
The conference is student-led with a team of six English and Creative writing students behind it. This fits with other student-led or student-involved projects aimed at inclusivity and equality on campus – including the Student with Disabilities Officer Molly Lawson’s ‘Improve Your Learning’ campaign as well as the ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ campaign.
The conference is designed to discuss ways in which universities can go beyond government legislation in order to better tackle EDI issues. For this reason, the team is encouraging people to submit ideas on how to better achieve equality at university and explore EDI beyond the six protected characteristics. The nine groups included in the Equality Act 2020 include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation and ideas regarding any of these areas are welcome. The conference is open to anyone involved in academia – whether it be undergraduates, postgraduates or researchers – and the team is asking for submissions of 200-300 words with a brief biography by the 8th of May 2021. Some of the suggested paper topics and panels that might be included in the conference include personal identity and academic writing, academic perspectives on equality movements and charters such as Athena SWAN and the Racial Equality Charter, accessibility and belonging in higher education, and widening participation in academia.
To learn more or find out how you can be involved in the conference by submitting your abstract check out the team’s website following this link, or email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org