As National Inclusion Week draws to a close, we wanted to reflect on inclusion work taking place within our projects, and the importance of implementing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) during one of the most turbulent years in recent memory.

EDI work can often be pushed to the back of the shelf when other more pressing issues arise (for example, pandemics) and its more important than ever to make sure that equity isn’t just for National Inclusion Week. One recently created BSA programme which has been navigating the choppy waters of 2020, is the Inclusive Science Engagement Network (ISEN).

ISEN launched in late 2019, with the goal of sharing EDI learning within the science engagement community and supporting widespread change across the sector. The nine Network members represent a wide range of organisations in the science engagement sector, from museums to learned societies and universities.

ISEN’s first meeting was in January 2020, and due to COVID-19, did not meet again formally until September 2020. Adapting from a physical collaborative meeting model to an online format came with the ups and downs we are all accustomed to, but the interesting learnings came from the inclusion work members had been able to implement during this strange time. For National Inclusion Week, several of the Network’s members shared a snapshot into their recent work and reflections on the shift in attitude in the sector.

Erin Hardee, Public Engagement Manager at The School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee:

“Work of all sorts has been difficult during the pandemic, and science engagement has had its challenges. At the School of Life Sciences we’ve focused on trying to ensure our online engagement is accessible to a wide range of people, and we’re using this time to look at our EDI strategies and policies to ensure they’re as transparent and robust as possible”.

Amy Boothroyd, Learning Coordinator at the National Coal Mining Museum:

“During lockdown we have completed two Makaton training sessions for 10 staff members including members from our curatorial and education team.  We hope through this Makaton training that we will be able to improve the capabilities of staff to make the visitor have a more inclusive experience. Lockdown has also meant that we have had the chance to develop our virtual museum offer and we have been focusing on promoting STEM in creative ways, using interactive videos that visitors can engage with at home.”

Shaaron Leverment, Deputy CEO at the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC):

“A recent survey of 17 Science and Discovery Centres, conducted amidst the fears of the impact of the pandemic on diversity, equity, inclusion and access, found there is a significant increase in the diversity of trustee level staff, and the diversity of strategic level partnerships. This has resulted from periods of closure that have offered time for reflection, as well as forced restructure.

“The move to focus the location of challenges we face internally (rather than locating the problem externally towards reaching new audiences), is a powerful transition. However, it naturally raises more concerns as prolonged closure and low capacity continues to dismantle teams within our organisations.

“Those prioritising working towards longer-term culture change must continually scrutinise and challenge internal practices and systems that replicate inequalities, particularly during this time. The vast array of resources and stories being shared through National Inclusion Week is undoubtedly of huge support.”

Emily Fisk and Christopher Duff, Centre and STEM Officers, Science Oxford:

“During this pandemic and specifically the lockdown, the Science Oxford team have had a reduction in engagement. Despite this, we have not let our EDI work fall by the wayside. At the beginning of lockdown, we kept in communication with our most local schools to see how we could help, whilst they stayed open, supporting the children of key workers. 

“We were able to offer free kit loans to these schools, to enable teachers to continue their science engagement, even across mixed year groups. In addition to this, we're able to run our annual Big Science Event Competition, which we typically run during the Summer Term, and is aimed at encouraging Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire schools to plan and conduct their own scientific investigations. This year, we instead hosted the competition online rather than in schools, and accepted online entries not only from local schools, but also communities and families from across the UK and beyond- we had entries from London, the Midlands, the north-east, Scotland and even one entry from the US!”

If you would like to learn more about the Inclusive Science Engagement Network, please visit