University of Lincoln Awarded EPSRC funding to Improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the Research Sector

The University of Lincoln has been awarded £509,901 funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within engineering and physical sciences.

The project forms part of a broader programme of eleven projects within EPSRC’s Inclusion Matters initiative, launched as part of the collective approach by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to promote EDI.

The Advanced Strategic Platform for Inclusive Research Environments (ASPIRE) project will take place at the University of Lincoln’s Eleanor Glanville Centre, a dedicated EDI unit. It will offer an innovative approach to improving EDI within the sector, with a primary focus on long term behavioural and cultural change.

The project will draw together expertise from academics from across the University’s Schools of Chemistry, Social and Political Sciences, Computer Science and the Research and Enterprise Office. It will develop an evidence-based online toolkit to connect best practice with improved ways to measure, monitor and implement EDI initiatives for maximum impact.

The project is being run by the University of Lincoln in collaboration with Vitae, Oxford Brookes University, the Lisbon Council, Emerald Publishing, University of Sheffield, University of Kent University of Trento, Aston University, Coventry University and Towards Vision.

Professor Belinda Colston, ASPIRE Programme Director, said: The research sector has been striving for fully inclusive environments in science and engineering related disciplines for over 30 years. Despite substantial investment, however, broad under-representation and inequalities are still widespread. Reasons for this are complex and often system-wide, but ultimately reflect deep-rooted cultures and attitudes in the workplace.

“ASPIRE will develop a new and more comprehensive impact framework to extend simple metrics-based evaluation and measure genuine and meaningful changes in ED&I attitude and behaviour.”

Vicky Williams, CEO of Emerald Publishing, added: “We are excited to play a role in this project, both from the perspective of Emerald’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the workplace as well as our role as a publisher participating and communicating the results of international research collaborations.

“We established an internal group, called STRIDE, in 2015 to create positive change in the inclusivity and diverse leadership of the company. We will be using STRIDE to pilot the ASPIRE platform and really embed change. This tangible action is in line with our mission to support the real impact of research.”

Speaking of the wider Inclusion Matters initiative, Professor Jennifer Rubin, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Executive Champion for equality, diversity and inclusion, said: “UK Research and Innovation is committed to furthering equality, diversity and inclusion for both our staff and for the research and innovation sector more widely.

“The Inclusion Matters initiative illustrates the ambitious, evidence-based approach that we will take across UKRI to strengthen equality, diversity and inclusion across the sector.”

The ASPIRE project will begin in late 2018 and runs for three years.