Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries & Museums have been recognized for four exemplary projects at the 2020 Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Awards. The Diversity Awards were established to recognise the exceptional work being undertaken at all levels of the University to promote equality and diversity.
Multaka-Oxford has won the 2020 Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Award in the category of Diversifying Participation, which recognises work to increase the participation of underrepresented groups or to extend the reach of the University’s work to new audiences. Multaka-Oxford is a joint project between the History of Science and Pitt Rivers Museums which has created inclusive volunteering opportunities for 64 people who arrived in the city as forced migrants or asylum seekers. The project was described by Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson as a one that ‘stood out for the inspiring and innovative approach that it has taken to engage new audiences with the University in meaningful ways, as well as influence our staff to be more inclusive in their ways of working.’
The Bodleian Libraries ‘Ethiopian and Eritrean Treasures – Ge’ez’ project, as a transmitter of cultural heritage’ was also one of the shortlisted entrants in the same category of Diversifying Participation. For the project members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in London and Milton Keynes helped the libraries learn more about their collection of precious books and manuscripts from Ethiopia and Eritrea, by co-curating a display and leading a family day to explore and celebrate the collections. The project brought members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora together and inspired younger generations of these communities to learn about the languages and religious and historical literature of their ancestors. It also provided opportunities for knowledge exchange between researchers and Ethiopian-Eritrean scholars, community members and religious leaders.
The History of Science Museum was commended for its Tomorrow’s Oxford Heads project in the Promoting Awareness category, which recognises work to promote understanding of equality and diversity and influence perceptions among the University community and the wider public. For the Oxford Heads project the History of Science Museum (HSM) worked with the University of Oxford's School of Geography and the Environment to understand more about the history and mysteries of the heads located at the front of the HSM and Sheldonian Theatre and also to explore possibilities for the future. Scientists from the School of Geography and the Environment researched the history of the stone heads while the HSM commissioned and installed temporary art installations outside the Museum to encourage the public to contribute ideas on how public sculpture in Oxford could be diversified in the future to better represent people in today’s Oxford. This was complemented by a display in the Weston Library about the previous generations of the stone heads.
In the same category the Museum of Natural History’s contribution to the winning Beyond Boundaries programme was also highlighted. Beyond Boundaries is a science-inspired art competition which aims to increase the visibility of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) scientists and mathematicians and help break down the perceived division between science and art, emphasising that science and maths are creative subjects for creative and curious people and further connect the University with schools and the public in meaningful, transformative ways. For the project Oxfordshire state school pupils were asked to create art based on profiles of BME researchers from the University’s Mathematics, Physics & Life Sciences (MPLS) Division. A public exhibition of the entries were then displayed at the Museum of Natural History, which was also the site for the project awards ceremony.
For more information visit the Vice-Chancellor's Diversity Awards webpage.
Image captions: Multaka-Oxford event at the History of Science Museum; Beyond Boundaries competition winner in the year 9 individual category, artwork titled 'The very beginning'; Image of David, MS Aeth. d. 19 © Bodleian Libraries; 'Tomorrow's Oxford Heads' art installation outside the History of Science Museum.