If you have been following the RHS, you will know that we have been involved in pressing to make History a more equal, inclusive and welcoming space. Our 2018 Race, Ethnicity and Equality Report committed the RHS to reporting on its progress a year on, and today we publish our Roadmap for Change Update.
In October 2018, we published a report on Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK History. This RHS report built on existing work by groups such as the Runnymede Trust, the Young Historians Project and Museum Detox, and surveyed the state of the discipline for BME staff and students in particular. It found that Undergraduate level History was overwhelmingly white in terms of students, that the numbers were even lower when it came to Postgraduate level History and that ‘History academic staff are less diverse than H&PS student cohorts, with 93.7% of History staff drawn from White backgrounds, and only 0.5% Black, 2.2% Asian and 1.6% Mixed’.
The report identified that curriculum content from secondary school level to university history stifled interest in History amongst BME students. It offered statistical data on the endemic experience of discrimination, bias and harassment suffered by BME staff and students, most often from colleagues, but also from students and the public. The report ended by recommending changes that addressed the ‘leaky pipeline’ issue in the form of dedicated funding under the remit of positive action, the need to expand the history curriculum, and specific anti-racist and unconscious bias training.
The RHS Roadmap for Change Update, our new report published today, is a summary of how universities, learned societies and a variety of institutions – including the RHS – have responded to the 2018 report and its findings. The Roadmap for Change surveys the cumulative responses to exhaustive qualitative and quantitative data that has shown without doubt that History at Higher Education level in the UK needs to be made more equal and inclusive.
The Roadmap records specific events, workshops, working groups that have been formed to discuss subjects related to race and ethnicity in History. It covers specific reports and publications that cite the Report, and the many responses of learned societies. It also uses material supplied by History subject leads and Heads of Department to provide a snapshot of the range of activities that have been undertaken, including hiring practices, curriculum audits and dedicated funding. It points to upcoming events involving members of the Race, Ethnicity and Equality Working Group, and ends with a bibliography of new reports that can be added to the 2018 report.
Overall, the Roadmap is not exhaustive. We have only been able to record what we know has happened and there will be many instances of good practice not reported to the RHS. As a state of the field report, a year on from the publication of the Race Report we can celebrate the work that has been done and continue to be inspired to carry on the fight.
The RHS Race Ethnicity and Equality Working Group is made up of historians who volunteer their expertise and time. Find out more about the group here. If you have any comments on the Roadmap for Change, or would like to let us know about how your department or institution has used the Report to effect change, please get in touch with Dr Shahmima Akhtar by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.