Equality and diversity

The School of Art History is committed to creating an inclusive environment that supports equality and diversity. Our School wishes to foster an environment free of prejudice, in which all staff and students feel able to reach their full potential. All staff operate under the University’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

The School does not tolerate harassment or and bullying of any kind. Legally protected characteristics are age, disability, gender and sexuality, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sex. Any harassment or bullying that is witnessed and reported to the EDI Officer will be investigated and dealt with according to University policy. 

EDI Committee

The EDI Committee assists in the School’s effort to facilitate transparent and collaborative forward planning, so as to fairly distribute responsibilities between all members of staff. Members of the committee familiarize themselves with University policies regarding equality and inclusion and communicate this information to staff and students. The committee also leads initiatives to ensure workplace equality amongst all levels of staff, regardless of length of contract or grade of employment. Other members of the committee are student-facing, working to engender an open conversation about demographic and curricular diversity in the School.

The current members of the EDI Committee are:

EDI Officer

The EDI Officer represents the interests of EDI on the School Management Committee. The EDI Officer is the point of contact for any grievances regarding bullying and harassment, as well as any concerns that are relevant to the School’s commitment to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion. The school’s current EDI Officer is Yusen Yu. He welcomes suggestions, concerns, and communications, and can be contacted at arthistedi@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Report and support

The Report and Support tool is available to report any concerns you have related to wellbeing, bullying, discrimination, abuse, assault or harassment of any sort. You can report anonymously or using your contact details. If you provide your contact details, a member of staff will be able to contact you to help provide support. This tool can be used by students, members of staff, members of the public or visitors to the University.

Mediation service

The Mediation Service is available to students, staff and members of the public, experiencing disagreement or conflict, who would prefer a less formal method of discussing University-related disagreements and grievances. The service is also available for groups or teams.

The Mediators are staff members from The University of St Andrews who have undertaken formal mediation training accredited by Scottish Mediation. Several Post Graduate students have also qualified in Mediation. Mediators act impartially and separately from University Schools and Services. They are solely interested in helping those engaged in the service reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Mediation is a confidential, informal, voluntary, self-determined and without prejudice process. If you or someone you know is involved in a disagreement that is in its early stages or has reached an impasse, please contact mediation@st-andrews.ac.uk for an informal chat about how the mediators can help.

Athena Swan Bronze Award

The school is proud to be the recipient of an Athena Swan Gender Equality Bronze Award. This award is the result of a year-long process (2017-2018) in which members of the school’s Self-Assessment Team analysed the results of student and staff surveys, collected statistical data, conducted focus groups with student and staff, and worked together to identify and address the challenges that emerged. The EDI Committee is currently implementing the Athena Swan Action Plan.

Logo for the Athena Swan Bronze award

Black Lives Matter

The School of Art History supports the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests taking place around the world in response to the killing of Black Americans by police officers. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others. We share the outrage of our students and support those who are advocating for change and making their voices heard. We recognise, too, that this a critical moment of reckoning, and we stand in solidarity with those who are calling attention to and demanding action against racism and injustice in the UK. We want our students to know that we are listening, and that we acknowledge their expressions of pain and outrage.  

As historians, we firmly believe that the study of art and visual culture has a critical role to play in interrogating structural inequality and in revealing historic injustice. We are committed to continuing to diversify our curriculum, from First- and Second-Arts modules, through to our Honours modules and MLitt classes. We value the continued input from our student body on this matter. We know that there is much work left to do. We wish to assure our students, however, that as a School we are committed to teaching an inclusive, global Art History that incorporates multiple narratives, perspectives and voices.

Curricular development

Some of our recent efforts at curricular reform include redesigning the first-year art history survey, which traditionally focused on early modern Italy and Northern Europe. New lectures – including those on Islamic art, global trade, Dutch and Portuguese imperial expansion, and the slave trade – demonstrate that the ‘European tradition’ is not autonomous, but rather deeply imbricated in global networks that are the product of mercantilism, colonialism, and imperialism. Issues of gender also play a significant role in our sub-honours teaching, as we explore the careers of female artists and patrons and critically examine the representation of gender in visual art. 

At the honours level, a number of courses have been introduced in recent years to geographically and thematically broaden the topics studied by advanced undergraduates. These include modules that explore Middle Eastern, East Asian, African, and Latin American art histories. Throughout our curriculum, students are encouraged to reflect on how the study of art history has participated in histories of appropriation, exploitation, and oppression, but also to consider how art making and its study can serve as meaningful sites of critique, protest, and resistance.

The School commits to the formation of a Committee for Curricular Development and Diversification, which shall both include student representation and organize at least one open forum per academic semester at which all students who wish to attend may express their opinions on curricular development and diversification. One of the goals of this committee will be collaborative planning and learning regarding existing approaches to the diversification of curriculum in higher education. Strategies will be discussed for the implementation and promotion of curricular change in line with the school’s commitment, made in the 2019 Athena Swan Action Plan, to annually assess the curriculum to “ensure diversity in the subjects and approaches covered by teaching and to include a diverse range of authors in our reading lists.”

An open call will be made for students who wish to join the committee. In the meantime, if you wish to express your interest in participating, please email arthistedi@st-andrews.ac.uk.

University policies, guidance, and initiatives