Black Lives Matter in PAIS
We are distressed by the continued violence and racism experienced by Black people in the United States, United Kingdom, and beyond. We want an inclusive environment for our community, and we are committed to exploring and understanding how anti-racism can be embedded across our Department. We fully support the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as all our students and staff who are standing in solidarity. We welcome the questions that students and staff are asking about actions that the University of Warwick and the Department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS) are taking to address racial inequality.
The Students’ Union have issued a statement on Black Lives Matter, which provides a powerful message for our whole community, alongside wellbeing guidance and resources for the Black community.
A Joint Statement from Race Equality Taskforce and the University Executive Board was released on 9 June and can be accessed here: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/equalops/blacklivesmatter. This statement recognises that we are part of a sector and a country where racism has proliferated and is embedded within society. We see this across the sector and at Warwick in the small number of Black and BAME professors, in the Black attainment gap, and, as our students have shared in the Warwick Speak Out report (by Warwick anti-Racism Society and the SU), in the experience of Black students every day, both on our campus and in the classroom. The Joint Statement details some of the actions that the University is taking, whilst also acknowledging that these actions alone do not reflect the enormity of the challenge. The statement clearly lays out the University’s ongoing commitment to developing and working towards our goal of an anti-racist and inclusive University.
At University level, Warwick’s Social Inclusion strategy highlights the need for anti-racism work as an institutional priority. Senior University management have invited departmental leads to attend anti- racist training, so that we can embed anti-racism across the institution. Targets have been set to reduce the student attainment gap, but also to increase the numbers of BAME academics and professional services staff. The University is supporting the work of the Race Equality Taskforce, which brings together academics, professional staff, and SU representatives to identify key issues and effective responses. Academics across the University are engaged in developing resources through forums such as the Anti-Racist Pedagogy Learning Circle. They have recently funded their staff development anti-racist programme, which will be made available across the University.
At Department level, we have been working in partnership with students through our Liberated Curriculum Working Group, with a particular focus on decolonising the curriculum. This partnership has already resulted in significant revisions to our modules to better align them with anti-racist principles, but we will continue this work as part of an ongoing process. We also have active Widening Participation and Equality & Diversity Committees, with student representation, focusing on crucial issues such as diversity in our recruitment and the Attainment Gap in student performance, which we will discuss with our BAME students. We work closely with Schools and through our widening participation and outreach sessions we have been delivering sessions on what to do about colonial- era statues for a number of years. We realise that addressing the Attainment Gap requires long-term measures and that there are rarely quick fixes, but as a Politics and International Studies department we want to be at the forefront of changes that serve to tackle this issue. One of our key long-term initiatives is the Colonial Hangover project, which works with students to pose a series of questions about everyday life that currently remain underrepresented in both public political discourse and the school curriculum. But we also realise that there is much more that we can and need to do.
In PAIS we take all equality, diversity, and inclusion issues extremely seriously and we are committed to exploring and understanding how anti-racist practices can be embedded throughout our curriculum and in extra-curricular activities. We wish to express our solidarity with BAME members of our community who may be experiencing acute distress at this time. We are very aware that we still have much to learn, both individually and collectively, and that there is so much more that we urgently need to do to support you, and all members of the Department to embed and operationalise increasingly robust anti-racist principles. Please work with us in order to achieve this change by contacting us if you have any specific concerns or suggestions for how we might do more.
PAIS Senior Management Team