EREN wins the award for Community Building at Hidden REF 2021
It started with an email asking if Rashne or I could attend the Hidden REF awards this year. My first thoughts were confused, what were the awards? What had we been nominated for? Checking in with Hidden REF I found we had been nominated by Emily Sena (who likely had told me she had at the time and in the intervening weeks I had totally forgotten). After a bit of reading about what Hidden REF was and checking diaries, on Thursday afternoon, I logged into Zoom and joined the proceedings.
It was to be an afternoon of pleasing and unexpected news as EREN won the Community Building category.
So what are the Hidden REF? What was in our nomination? What does this mean for EREN?
The Hidden REF:
You can get the full story in their own words at https://hidden-ref.org/about/ but to summarise, the Hidden REF is a series of awards based around the concept that beneath all the traditionally published outputs from research that are submitted to REF, there is a huge amount of good work that often goes unrecognised.
Starting in its first iterations by recognising works and their contributors in categories often underrepresented in traditional research outputs, new categories have been added using input from the wider research community.
One of those newer categories was community building.
So how did we get nominated?
For that we can thank our friend and former co-convenor Emily, who wrote the following about the network:
“The University of Edinburgh Race Equality Network (EREN) is for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues and white allies committed to race equity, diversity and inclusion. EREN was established five years ago by two colleagues, Emily Sena (academic lead) and David Creighton-Offord (professional services lead), now has over 100 members and is run by a structured committee (all volunteers) with monthly meetings. We have developed an active community that provides a supportive environment for BAME colleagues, holds the university to account, promotes systemic change and are engaged in anti-racist activism.
To improve racial literacy, we have the EREN Book Club open to anyone interested in race equity and anti-racism. We include fiction, non-fiction and academic texts, sessions are well attended and some authors, e.g. Angela Saini, have accepted invitations to participate. To elevate the profile of our BAME researchers, we have the EREN Lunchtime Biography series. These short talks allow members to share their career stories and humanise them to colleagues with different lived experiences. We have also established the Tackling Islamophobia Working Group. The group collaborates with key stakeholders and Edinburgh is on track to be one of the first UK universities to adopt a definition of Islamophobia.
Our value is recognised by the institution and we have been invited onto multiple institutional committees and to provide feedback and insights into proposed activities (e.g. the Women of Colour leadership training course/ inclusive language guide around race). We use Twitter and our blog to share our ongoing impact; for example, a white senior research scientist member described how EREN empowered and equipped her to discuss racism in a fellowship funding panel meeting.
Our greatest impacts have been ensuring that race equity, diversity and inclusion remain high on our institutional agenda, and nurturing and maintaining a sense of belonging for our BAME community.”
Which is quite the write up!
What does this mean for EREN?
That our work is seen and recognised. That we have value. That we must continue our work.
We have come a long way in 5 years. Let’s celebrate our successes and use them to keep us moving forwards, as the work is far from over.