In September 2015, Business Secretary Sajid Javid asked Universities UK to investigate ‘lad culture’ and violence against women, with a focus on creating cultural change. The issues of bullying and harassment in higher education were receiving widespread media coverage, as was the shortage of academics from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, and equality and diversity issues relating to students.
Despite a number of recent initiatives designed to tackle these (including widening participation programmes and charter mark schemes such as Athena SWAN), it was clear that the UK higher education sector needed a new approach to improve equality and diversity.
Research conducted by Dr Alison Phipps and Dr Liz McDonnell aimed to inspire university staff and managers to work towards cultural change through promoting equality and diversity.
Their work is the subject of a research brief: ‘Supporting cultural change to improve equality and diversity in Higher Education.’
Using research commissioned at Imperial College London, they developed an innovative capacity-building framework SHAPE (Self-awareness, Honesty, Altruism, Political consciousness, Empathy) and a Grounded Action Inquiry methodology, which put staff and students at the heart of culture change planning.
The project – Changing University Cultures (CHUCL) – included the creation of a set of free resources, as well as the development of training and consultancy services, and a network of ‘change agents’.
The briefing paper was circulated to the Universities UK task force at an event that was held in London on 19th April 2016, and a public report on the original research at Imperial College has now been published: A review of Imperial College’s institutional culture and its impact on gender equality. The work has been profiled by a range of media outlets, including Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, Times Higher Education, the Evening Standard, The Tab and The Independent.
Read the research brief: ‘Supporting cultural change to improve equality and diversity in Higher Education.’ [PDF 181KB]
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