History is about understanding diverse past human experiences, and how the past influences the present. This means history is also about understanding different perspectives and values. Historians strive to recover and include different viewpoints and voices. Equality, diversity, and inclusion are fundamental to the study of the past.
They are also fundamental to our ways of working and studying within the Department of History. We recognise, respect, and value the different identities, experiences, and perspectives of students and staff. We aim to create an environment where everyone can speak, everyone is heard, and everyone is empowered to make change in the present.
The Department of History at Essex is proud to be the recipient of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department aims to be an inclusive environment where there is a culture of equality and respect, and everyone feels valued as a member. We also want to give people confidence and help to address issues if they arise. As historians of political, social, and cultural change, my colleagues and I recognise that fostering diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do but that it also brings benefits to all. In doing this, we want to give everyone in our community—students and staff—the opportunity to thrive and support them to reach their potential.
In April 2022 a team of students and staff from the Department of History drew up an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Charter. This Charter reflects what students and staff value about the Department. It is an active statement about what the Department does well, what it can continue to do well, and where it can improve.
The Department of History was awarded the prestigious Athena SWAN bronze award in 2017. The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise the commitment to advancing careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.
In May 2015, the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
Visit the Athena SWAN website to learn more about the application process and the criteria for receiving a bronze award.
Our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee includes student and staff representatives. We aim to build a culture where all students and staff are confident of the active efforts in the Department to achieve equality and inclusion, and where everyone understands that recognising diversity is essential to this task.
“I chose to be a student rep on the EDI committee because throughout university I've always had my concerns and voiced them through emails. I thought becoming a student rep would be a great opportunity to voice my concerns or opinions at a wider scale and share other people's thoughts. I would like the committee to achieve represent the student's voice to the best of its ability and implement positive changes.” – Lesley Asante, Final Year History Student.
In general, we work to formulate strategies and implement policies around equality, diversity, and inclusion. An essential part of this work is actively seeking feedback and suggestions from all members of the Department.
We are actively committed to decolonising the curriculum. Our degree programmes explore how and why introducing new perspectives changes established views of historical events and encounters in history. We believe that history invites constant questioning and re-visioning, and that the more voices and viewpoints we include, the better we can understand the past.
Here are some of the actions we have taken in recent years to decolonise our curriculum and our learning environment:
There is always more to do and we are committed to keeping this work under continual review.