An afternoon of insight is set for October as the experiences of academics from black and other cultural backgrounds are explored during the @UniNorthants' first #BlackHistoryMonth conference.

#Blackintheivory will be held from 1-4pm on 14 October online, is free to attend and open to people from all backgrounds.

The full agenda can be found online and includes a welcome speech from University of Northampton’s (UON) Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Shân Wareing.

The event will also highlight career pathways and networking strategies for students from different ethnic background who are making the transition from education to work and showcase the work of equality and inclusion at UON as a university with a high proportion of students of colour.

Although the focus of the event is academic life, themes will be explored which are relevant to those from any professional level, whether academic, student or for members of the public who are interested in these topics.

The conference takes its name from the social media hashtag created by Dr. Sharde’ Davis of the University of Connecticut, who is the event’s keynote speaker.

Dr Davis will examine how universities are not only involved in education and knowledge creation, but are also active agents of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The hashtag is used to generate discussions about the lived experiences of academics from different ethnic background, research and life in academia. Academics also share resource material and offer support and advice to their peers.

The event has been organised by the University’s Global Ethnic Majority (GEM) network, formerly known as the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) network but which will go live under its new name on the date of the conference to more accurately reflect its membership and purpose.

The network – which is independent of the University – holds a number of functions, including offering commentary about policy, consulting on GEM measures that will impact on staff and also provides advocacy work.

The conference is the centrepiece of other Black History Month activities at the University.

The University’s Library and Learning Service will launch a new decolonised reading list to coincide with the conference.

This has grown out of the team’s work to broaden the range of texts offered and widen the horizons of students and staff. Staff and students are will be encouraged continue updating the library about new or missing books.

There is a free to attend performance event with Actors for Human Rights, highlighting the inequality affecting asylum seekers in British society, including experiences from migrants and asylum seekers.

On Thursday 29 October, there will be a virtual book club* hosting a reading and discussion of ‘Insurgent Empire’, focusing solely on the chapter ‘Black Voices Matter’.

There will be coordinated social media engagement highlighting the achievements of the Black British community in education.

The Students’ Union (SU) will be hosting a movie night event on 8 October at 6pm showing the blockbuster film Black Panther.

Black students will also be encouraged to share their experiences to inform SU campaigns and representation and there will be a series of guest speakers throughout the month.

Professor Wareing said: “Following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, this year has seen a welcome powerful shift in the attention paid to issues of race equality in many settings and underlined the urgency of positive action.

“As Dr Davis will outline, Universities have particular responsibility and unique opportunities to be academically and culturally progressive, with absolute commitment to equality and inclusion for academics and students and establishing a sea change in our approach to research. At the University of Northampton, we are privileged to welcome Dr Davis and our other speakers for what will be an exciting and illuminating day for all of us.”

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