Success for diversity and inclusivity projects

  • Date

    Thu 22 Dec 22

students in lab coats with microscope

Three innovative student-staff projects from Essex have been successfully completed thanks to funding from the YUFE Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Grants initiative.

Diversity and inclusivity are key to the YUFE (Young Universities for the Future of Europe) alliance and a core value for all its members, which includes Essex.

The D&I Grant scheme was launched earlier this year to encourage innovative activities promoting diversity, inclusion and equity, in line with YUFE’s D&I promises and aims.

Each securing up to £1,000 in funding, the 13 successful student-staff projects included three which were led by Essex.

Refugee Rights Awareness Project

Students and staff at Essex collaborated to develop an information booklet and podcast that informs settled refugees in England and Scotland of their immigration rights in the UK.

This project involved the team developing, producing and disseminating information on healthcare, children and family matters, residency rights, housing, employment, taxation and government aid.

Dr Olayinka (Yinka) Lewis, project leader and lecturer in the Department of Law, said: “We applied for this grant because we know that for many refugees, despite settling in the UK, they are still having a lot of difficulties in terms of access to practical information.”

The booklet will now be sent to advice agencies around the country and to specific people in need, as well as the podcast.

Running at Walls: Consent through creativity

Students and staff from Essex developed two pilot workshops on sexual consent with the aim of helping the University reflect upon current practices regarding sexual consent, sexual consent training and the intersection of different identities.

Ej-Francis Caris-Hamer, a postgraduate research student in the Department of Sociology, and senior sociology lecturer Dr Laurie James-Hawkins, co-led a team to produce the two pilot workshops.

Both workshops were created and delivered (one online, one face-to-face) to undergraduate students who then completed pre and post-test surveys on their understanding of sexual consent.

The in-person workshop used theatre and creative writing to unpack “grey areas” and address difficult questions surrounding sexual consent such as the power dynamics involved in ambiguous sexual situations.

Ej-Francis said: “This project is so important because consent is an issue that constantly needs to be reflected on and will never be over.”

Understanding the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Higher Education

This project involved co-leads at Essex and Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) collaborating to encourage more girls and women to look at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Both universities worked together by hosting in-person visits and online events where they shared experiences and identified areas of interest to increase the participation of women in STEM.

Both universities have a group promoting women in STEM - Women in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at Essex (CSEE) and STEM for Girls UC3M - which support women across all levels of the university and encourage women to study STEM careers.

Essex lecturers Drs Alba García Seco de Herrera and Caterina Cinel worked on this project alongside students and staff from both universities.

Dr García Seco de Herrera said: “It was a very helpful and inspiring visit for both universities and we are now working on new initiatives to give women more opportunities to get involved in STEM events.”

Dr Cinel added: “This helps everyone get used to the fact that STEM subjects are for everyone.”