The Sphere conference 2021


Guest blog written by Professor Raheela Khan and Associate Professor Amal Treacher Kabesh, Chairs of Sphere Programme Board.

The first ever Sphere conference will take place virtually on Tuesday 29 June 2021. The conference aims to bring the university community together to share best practice and research in the field of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The Sphere programme board allocates small amounts of funding for projects that deliver change through EDI activity each year. The conference will give us an opportunity to share learning from Sphere projects funded in 2019/2020.

Book your place to attend this free virtual conference on Tuesday 29 June 2021, from 1:30pm-5:00pm, using the link below: 

Book here


Professor Sarah Sharples, the outgoing PVC for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and People will give the opening remarks. She will reflect on her 3 years in post, the progress we have made as a university, and the challenges we are still facing.

Panel Discussion

Professor Raheela Khan, Chair of the Sphere Programme Board, will chair a panel discussion, aimed at exploring how we can involve more colleagues and students in EDI work and how we can overcome some of the resistance to this work. She will ask participants to draw on their varied experience of working within the university and beyond. The panel members include representatives from different job families, in order to draw on a wide range of experiences and knowledge.

-          Cheryl Ruse, who is one of the BAME staff network champions for Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and also Head of Operations of the Precision Imaging Beacon, will reflect on her role as a staff network champion

-          Ian Kidd, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, will draw on his academic and teaching experiences to discuss reasons for resistance to EDI initiatives

-          Lenford Vassell, who is a Security Officer based within the Estates Security Section will reflect on his work on promoting equality within the university.

EDI in the Digital World and Public Engagement

The pressure to have a visible online presence has become an essential part of the day-to-day career paths for many academics and researchers across the globe. This project, funded by the EPSRC Inclusion Matters portfolio, conducted by the University of Nottingham’s STEMM Change team, investigates the linguistic abuse, bias and discrimination that are experienced by those fulfilling public engagement roles through digital platforms. Taking a large dataset of 15 million words of below-the-line comments from YouTube science channels, our analysis demonstrates how scientists who do not fit the stereotypical model of the ‘authentic’ scientist are subject to discriminatory abuse online. We debate what platform providers and employers should do in the face of this abuse and discrimination. This work will be presented by Professor Louise Mullany, Dr Jacqueline Cordell, and Professor Claire Burrage.

EDI Issues: A Technicians' Lens

It is vital to appreciate that challenges around equality, diversity and inclusion do not just apply to academic or research staff groups. Indeed, it is arguable that the issues are more serious in the technician community where EDI is often not as advanced. Jodie Chatfield and Kelly Vere will provide insight into the EDI challenges within the technical community across UK higher education and explore the work underway to raise sector awareness. They will also discuss the development of targeted interventions to tackle identified challenges effectively, advancing EDI for all.

Funded Sphere Projects Overview

During the conference we will also hear from some of the Sphere projects funded in 2019/20 including a project on supervising PGRs from diverse backgrounds, presented by Alice Haslam and Sandra Rose from Research and Innovation. We will also hear from Roz Kelly and Emma Halford-Busby from libraries, who worked on diversifying the library collections for LGBT+ History Month. Finally, Aimie Purser from the School of Sociology will share their project on holding focus groups with BAME students.

This conference is the first of its kind at the university and will create foundations that can be built on at future conferences.

Professor Raheela Khan and Associate Professor Amal Treacher Kabesh
09 June 2021

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Trent Building
University Park Campus