Introduction (Extracts) by Paula Nottingham 

 

What is bringing us together for the colloquium is the professional ‘need to know’ about ‘what we do’ and an awareness that there is an increased urgency (pre and post-Covid) to reach out and amplify EDI measures within work and learning practice. We should however remain ‘critical’ (Dr Rina Saini, 2021) in our use of the EDI term and our application of its concepts.

 

I believe strongly that people from work and learning areas of further and higher education feel that they have been leading in this area for some time in various capacities.

 

Working in this area carries with it a particular passion for social justice. 

 

We believe that we are bringing benefits to individuals, and other people who work in organisations, and to a wider community.

 

Today presents a forum that we can use to talk about many different ways of working with people.

 

I recently went to a MDX event called ‘diversity in the classroom’ and one of the presenters, Dr Clarice Santos, encouraged people to use their own stories as a way to introduce personal experiences of EDI and to break down barriers and encourage others to share.

 

This actually triggered something that I have tended not to speak of often - but as way of introduction - here I am sharing this part of my ‘story’ with our gathering: 

 

My background- I grew up in Richmond Virginia - the capital of the confederacy - which sits very close to Washington D.C., on the east coast of the United States. I grew up during the 1970’s that was a historical era with the Vietnam War, the Nixon Watergate scandal, and the nationwide School Desegregation planning - where white and black children were physically bussed to overcome systematic separation in a racially divided state. 

 

I am therefore often not as I seem at first glance - and it is not until I begin to speak that this history starts to unfold - but even then I might need to explain my ‘differences’.

 

As with many others in their own lives - for me understanding human ‘sameness’ was a core principle of understanding the ‘need for’ and being a ‘part of’ constructive change. I was one of those school children who stayed in the city schools - and was bussed - and this experience completely changed my life.

 

Today Richmond is the news again as the site where confederate statues are being put into Museums after nationally televised Black Lives Matter protests - something I never imagined would happen 30 years ago when I was there.

 

The time to change is now…