#PlanetPartners: Fighting for equality and justice for all
Release Date 18 May 2021
Finding solutions to challenges faced by less engaged people in Reading and countries unjustly affected by climate change, and using interactive technologies to open up museum collections to everyone, are examples of the University of Reading’s work to address inequalities both locally and globally.
The University’s institutional and research efforts are underpinned by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at tackling societal and environmental challenges across the planet and are closely aligned with the University’s own strategy.
This May, the University of Reading is running a new #PlanetPartners campaign, inviting its entire community to share examples of work towards all the SDGs.
SDG10: Reduced Inequalities comprises work to provide equal opportunities, incomes and rights to all, within and between countries. For the University, it also includes work to ensure all members of its own community are given the same opportunities and supported where they face challenges.
"Our learning and engagement programmes strive to overcome barriers to participation in arts and heritage to ensure access for all." - Philippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager, The Museum of English Rural Life
Examples of work by the University to address SDG10 include:
- Working with artists and technology experts through purpleSTARS to make museums more accessible to all, including those with learning disabilities. This includes using sensory experiences to provide alternative interpretations of museum collections and research.
- Running a Race Equality Survey, which asked all staff and students how they feel race and ethnicity affects their day-to-day experience at the University. This is to shed light on common issues faced by members of our community in order to better understand what additional support and other changes are needed at the University, which will feed into an action plan and Race Equality Charter Mark application.
- Supporting the formation of the BAME Network for staff at the University.
- Setting targets for the University’s Council, committees and higher pay grades to properly reflect BAME representation among its academic staff, and reducing the attainment gap between BAME or disabled and white undergraduate students.
- Working through the Centre for Climate and Justice to highlight and tackle climate change inequalities, for example the fact that countries who contribute the least towards global emissions tend to suffer the most from climate change impacts.
- Carrying out workshops in local areas to identify obstacles facing less engaged members of the community, and helping map out a fairer future. Researchers have also been working with local groups and young people to reveal ways to help people in Reading feel safer, such as by tackling loneliness and supporting diverse communities.
Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL), said: “At The MERL, our learning and engagement programmes strive to overcome barriers to participation in arts and heritage to ensure access for all.
“Our work in partnership with purpleSTARS artists and technologists, with and without learning disabilities, saw members of the team identify and respond to barriers to meaningful museum engagement. The suite of inclusive multisensory interpretations that they developed in response have ensured our audiences have the opportunity to not only engage with but also experience those stories from our collections.”
The UN’s SDGs incorporate themes across the ‘five Ps’: People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership. These align with the University of Reading’s own strategic themes: Community, Excellence, Sustainability and Engagement.
This campaign follows the publication of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, in which Reading participated for the first time and ranked in the top 200 globally, which scored participating universities on their support of the individual SDGs.
The University’s latest campaign is a continuation of the #PlanetPartners campaign launched by the University in October 2019, which is highlighting ways the University is working with global partners on projects that benefit the environment.
Follow the campaign and share your examples of work on Twitter: @UniofReading | Facebook: /theuniversityofreading | Instagram: @uniofreading | LinkedIn: University of Reading | TikTok: @uniofreading using the hashtags #PlanetPartners and #sdgoals