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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Message from the School of Geography and Environmental Science Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Published: 12 June 2020

Message from our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee: We are writing as staff and students in the School of Geography of Environmental Science to express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests. We stand together with our black colleagues and students to speak out against racism. Our School is committed to creating an inclusive and tolerant environment. All members of our School have an active role to play in condemning and challenging racism and any other form of discriminatory behaviour. 

We are, however, acutely aware that such expressions of solidarity can form part of a broader trend within UK higher education where universities and departments speak of 'promoting diversity' whilst failing to challenge the systemic racism that is embedded into the very heart of our institutions.

The Geographers in our School are painfully aware of these tensions and the colonial roots of their discipline. Racism is not a one-off geographically distant event that takes place 'over there'. Racism is always closer to home. Geography continues to be a white discipline, attempts to decolonise the curriculum continue to fall short. The vital work of anti-racism and decolonization is placed disproportionately on the shoulders of black staff and students. Across the UK less than 1% of professors are black, and there are even fewer black female professors. The attainment gap in undergraduate education is particularly pronounced for black students. Research shows that black PhD students are disadvantaged when it comes to securing research council funding, and over the last three years, only 1.2% of UKRI PhD studentships were awarded to black or black mixed students.

We refuse to remain silent, as silence and violent inaction uphold everyday racism. So we stand in solidarity, but we do so with a sense of shame, and with a recognition of the work that still so urgently needs to be done to challenge white privilege...

Statement from the School of Geography and Environmental Science Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

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