In the fourth installment of our community reflections a year on from the murder of George Floyd, we bring you comments from; the faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences and Fundraising & Supported Development.
Helen Coulshed, Faculty Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences
Reflect on the last year, on the commitments you made and your personal learning and development.
This has been a pivotal year for NMES, appointing the first person of colour as Executive Dean, a female as EDI lead for the faculty and we also now have 3 out of 5 departments with female Heads. Professor Bashir M. Al-Hashimi and Dr Helen Coulshed, with the support of her Deputy chairs Donna Niccolls and Lauren Feltham, have ensured that race and racism has remained high on the agenda for our faculty.
Our focus has been to engage with key stakeholders at conversations about race (CAR), understand what training is available at King’s (race and racism training at SMT) and what still needs to happen to increase the wider feeling of inclusion experienced by all our staff and students.
What you have done as a result in your areas of the university?
We have worked with Arkam to develop conversations about race to take it beyond dialogue and progress into action orientated discussions about how to improve the culture for current staff and students and improve allyship. This will involve working with Ms Nkasi Stoll, a PhD student from psychological medicine and her research into mental health of black students at King’s. We hope to have her as an invited speaker and run both allyship workshops, mental health support and advertise her Black students talk program.
We are talking with Messiah Odinma (head of student success) about attainment gap training for academic staff to build on the personal tutor guidance for students of colour that was created by our inclusive education student partners of 20/21. Messiah will talk with NMES academic staff about the attainment gap, some of its causes and their role in eradicating it through supporting underrepresented students. Staff away days and all staff meetings will be used for delivery of this training opportunity.
Dr Ashwin Matthew from Digital Humanities has also given a talk about decolonising computer science at our weekly education elevenses. This sparked a lot of interest and discussion about what a decolonised science curriculum looks like. NMES is now part of the KCL decolonisation working group and will start engaging with projects to facilitate decolonisation of our science curriculum.
NMES has committed an additional £10,000 towards inclusivity training. Allyship and inclusive recruitment training have been prioritised in accordance with the King’s Race Equality Charter action plan.
We successfully applied for the Race Equality and Inclusive Education Fund for a student to help analyse first year core module attainment and engagement data. The aim of the project is to determine what assessment types reduce or remove attainment gaps based on ethnicity, gender, and fee status and create guidance on how to make the science curriculum more inclusive.
What difference you think has been made?
We have more engagement with more communities within the Faculty in EDI work. Our NMES Student EDI forum has developed a sense of agency through influencing Faculty priorities and working closely with our inclusive education student partners (IESPs) on their personal tutor guidance for supporting students of colour.
What you feel still needs doing?
Better communication and connectivity of work happening within departments and at NMES-level to ensure that anti-racism and inclusion is a shared endeavour. Creation of spaces to discuss race and racism at King’s, more mental health support for staff and students, considering ‘weathering’ effect that this year will have had on black or mixed heritage black staff and students are all potential areas of future focus. NMES PhD studentships exclusively for Black and mixed heritage black students and be more overt in recognising we have more to do to ensure we are representative across all grades.
Jennie Younger, Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Fundraising & Supported Development
Fundraising & Supported Development Leadership Team and the wider Dept has committed to talking openly and honestly about racism and race equality, and backing this up with action that delivers tangible impact. To support this, external support has been brought in to facilitate discussions at the LT, building confidence and capability in terms of talking about race. This supported the LT’s engagement with a Department-wide session in March, where all staff participated in group discussions about racism and race equality, considering their own personal experiences, the extent to which they had thought about the topic, and what action they wanted to see. Twelve members of staff were trained by Citizens UK to facilitate these discussions, which received excellent feedback from participants, even though all acknowledged the uncomfortable nature of the discussions.
A Working Group, sponsored and chaired by a member of the LT, is now taking the outputs of these discussions and using them to build an action plan, to deliver change and impact over 21/22 and beyond. This is focussing on the following themes:
- Communicating with alumni and supporters
- Cultures and values
- Inductions and training
- ‘Money in and money out’ (considering race equality in terms of gift acceptance and what we fundraise for)
- Recruitment and progression
A further set of Departmental conversations are planned at the F&SD Departmental Awayday in July.
F&SD is collaborating with other PS Directorates to ensure there is alignment and to maximise impact, as well as looking externally for advice and support (e.g. the EDI lead from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation has attended a Working Group meeting to share best practice). We appreciated Sarah’s time at a recent F&SD leadership team meeting..
Meanwhile I am on the EDI working group for the Ross Group (Russell Group Development Directors plus Development leads from key Charities) where we are proposing a range of initiatives to address the issue in Fundraising and Alumni Relations.