Have you ever used a word and thought, “I’m not sure if I should have said that”? Or do you worry that your everyday vocabulary and dialogue might be misconstrued?
We know that language has capacity to cause harm, which is why we try to avoid saying things that we think could upset other people. But, we can sometimes say the wrong thing to someone without even realising it, and what may seem like ‘a bit of banter’ to one person can be harmful to another. In the workplace, this may lead not only to awkward conversations, but can also create lingering bad feeling, and potentially damage working relationships.
A team led by Amy Fielden from the School of Psychology was awarded funding to run a series of three workshops on “A Dialogue on Language and Labels”. Since Amy has been on maternity leave, Billie Moffat-Knox has been leading on the project with colleagues from Psychology, and has now put together workshops that are designed to help staff and students learn about what words to use, and which might cause offence, when talking about equality and diversity issues. The workshops host guest speakers from both Northumbria and Newcastle Universities (see flyer), who will first talk about their research and/or personal experiences, and then encourage an interactive discussion around particular topics. The aim is to offer some practical guidance around how to avoid being misunderstood, and enable people across the Faculty and wider University to have open and honest conversations about potentially sensitive topics.
The three workshops will be run 4-6pm in The Atrium in FMS on Wednesday afternoons in the first half of October (3rd, 10th, 17th). Whilst Billie acknowledges that the timing may not be ideal for everyone, there have been limitations around finding a collegiate space in the busy teaching timetable. She has organised the workshops so that people with prior commitments are welcome to attend for just the first hour, and if these workshops are successful, Billie will be looking to hold them at times that would be more conducive to all staff and students.
The workshops certainly look like they will be really valuable in helping us have better conversations around EDI issues. All members of the Faculty are welcome to attend, and you can sign up for one or more workshops using the links below. Light refreshments will be provided.
For more information please contact Dr Billie Moffat-Knox.
We will be writing about other projects that have been funded by Newcastle University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund (EDIF) over the coming weeks. The EDIF funds awards up to £5K to support grass roots innovative projects proposed by our staff and students that help advance EDI at Newcastle University. There will be another call for applications before the end of the year – perhaps you might want to apply? If so, we are always happy to discuss or help you develop your idea.