Nurturing community & belonging – particularly during Covid-19

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SEPnet Diversity Webinar, Nurturing community & belonging–particularly during Covid-19 Wed 2 Dec 10.00-13.00, hosted by University of Kent

About this Event


Building an inclusive community within universities where students and staff feel heard and supported is more important than ever in the current climate. In particular, universities need to consider the impact of remote working and studying as well as dealing with future uncertainty for different groups including, for example, 1st generation students, those from different BAME backgrounds and those with physical and mental health issues. With so much focus on undergraduates, early career researchers can be forgotten and feel a lack of empowerment, a sense of isolation and anxiety about their future. Understanding how different groups engage with their working and learning environment is key to helping them feel a sense of belonging and enabling them to achieve their potential.

This annual workshop will explore how we can engage students and support early career researchers through specific interventions aimed at addressing these challenges. Time will be set aside for group discussion on specific issues and recommendations for good practice and opportunities for future collaboration.

This event is aimed at all STEM staff, PGRs and student representatives and those responsible for diversity and inclusion including Project Juno and diversity champions, Athena SWAN representatives, HR managers and academics.


10.00 Chair’s Introduction - Professor, Nigel Mason, Head of School and E&D Committee

10.15 The effect of online/remote learning on widening participating students

• A brief discussion on the rapid move to online in response to the pandemic and how this has impacted HE in general

• Some thoughts on how online outreach and learning is often more inclusive for WP students

• Some of the potential challenges and considerations relating to WP students when designing online activities/communities

• How to continue to innovate and get the best of both worlds as we transition into new normal whatever that turns out to be!

Amy Low, Service Delivery Director, AbilityNet

10.40 Understanding attainment differentials at a London-based university: student engagement through a mixed-method lens

• Factors that contribute to attainment gaps amongst undergraduate students

• Mixed method analysis of the role of student engagement in the emergence of attainment gaps

• Stories of male and BAME students highlight how engagement varies across disciplinary settings where attainment differentials also vary.

Dr Diego Bunge, Independent Researcher and Dr Daniel Hartley, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

11.05 Early Career Researcher Mental Health in Academia

• Introduction to ECR student mental health statistics

• Discussion of the factors that can pose mental health challenges for ECRs in a research environment

• Focus on how we can support our peers, students and as institutions to improve ECR mental health

Dr Zoë Ayres, Research Scientist and Mental Health Advocate

11.30 Panel discussion

11.50 Break

12.05 Breakout group discussions

12.35 Summary and questions

13.00 Close of proceedings


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