Dr Ian Kidd, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
Any change management programme around EDI requires a strategy for the minimisation of resistance which Dr Kidd describes as “the set of attitudes, actions, and patterns of behaviour that aim or intend to prevent, delay, dilute, or otherwise undermine efforts to affirm, strengthen, and entrench EDI”. He avers that the curriculum should be diverse from day 1 with exact reasons and pragmatic arguments established and shared for this diversity. Dr Kidd’s research identifies philosophical and pragmatic resistance to EDI which play out at both an individual and collective level. For counter-resistance to be effective, it must not only be aimed at both people and structures, but it must also be customised to the specific reasons for resistance, creating enabling strategies to deal with them. Dr Kidd identifies four types of resisters: the naive who resist due to empirical, psychological and conceptual naiveté; the conservative who resist due to an open or concealed desire to try to preserve established norms, practices, and culture; the proud who resist EDI initiatives because they perceive in them criticisms of their personal character, intellectual integrity, or professional pride; the hostile who resist due to hostility to the interests, needs, and situation of one or more marginalised / underrepresented groups.
Onto a pragmatic point, Dr Kidd highlights that building diversity in content, delivery and assessment requires substantial resources and that academics tend to favour conservatism, especially at times when they are time and resource poor. Most academics do not need motivation for EDI, he insists, they need resources. He notes that the reason why he can build diversity into his teaching is that he already researches a diversity of schools of philosophical thought, while other colleagues might need a nudge. If UoN pushes for the Decolonisation of the Curriculum agenda then academics need to be duly supported to do so.
A further disincentive in relation to decolonising the curriculum regards journal rating systems. Academics who embrace EDI, for e.g., a philosopher working on Indian and Chinese philosophy, may publish in journals relevant to their work but which are not highly ranked by REF. While this is a challenge for subject level associations, rather than for UoN to tackle, Dr Kidd would welcome creative discussions for a way forward on the current discrepancy between EDI research and REF requirements.