Forging a More Inclusive Research Ecosystem with Key Stakeholders

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

Following on from the discussion Combatting Systematic Discrimination in Science, this Falling Walls Circle Table reflected on what research institutions can and must do to redress inequality. Over the past year, organisations have accelerated their actions to promote diversity and equity, and in this panel we heard a wide range of measures that are already underway, as well as areas where progress is still dearly needed.

Many academic institutions have published statements in response to 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, while recognising that science remains deeply fragmented. Not everyone can participate in or access research, and there are huge disparities between and within nations. To achieve inclusive research, science needs to challenge its practices on every level – from individual scientists to systemic structures. Data is crucial to establish clear institutional targets, as well as best practices for interventions.

While there is a fundamental need to promote diversity and inclusive research of all forms, racism within research offers particular challenges. In 2020 there were signs that institutions were beginning to tackle racism with a much needed sense of urgency. The panel argues that this will not only benefit disadvantaged people, but will also allow science to realise its full potential.

Nick Perkins is Lead Technical Advisor- Development, Communication & Extension at CABI.

Nick has worked as a journalist, media trainer and project manager for over 20 years in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean. He cofounded Media for Development, an award-winning consultancy, providing support in a variety of areas of communication for global development. Since 2005 Nick’s work has focused on knowledge management and research communication. He trained as a journalist in Canada and has a postgraduate degree in anthropology and development from the University of Sussex. He has written a number of articles and training resources on communication for social change. He was Head of Research Communication at the Institute of Development Studies before becoming Director at SciDev.Net, the popular science journalism platform for international development. He is also Artistic Director at Wretched Theatre

Kumsal Bayazit was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Elsevier in February 2019. She has held multiple positions with RELX Group since 2004, most recently as Regional President Europe, Middle East and Africa at Reed Exhibitions. Before joining Reed Exhibitions in 2016, Kumsal was RELX Group’s Chief Strategy Officer, responsible for driving strategic initiatives, technology strategy and portfolio management. Prior to that she served in several operational and strategic roles with LexisNexis. Kumsal also chairs the Technology Forum at RELX Group and is a non-executive director at LSL Property Services plc. Prior to joining RELX Group in 2004, Kumsal spent several years at Bain & Company in their New York, Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Sydney offices. Kumsal earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with honors.

Daya Reddy holds the South African Research Chair in Computational Mechanics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He was a founder member of AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a network with centres for graduate education, research and outreach in six African countries, and serves as chair of the Council of AIMS South Africa. He is president of the International Science Council, a body comprising national and regional scientific organizations from 140 countries and some 40 international scientific unions. He also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany.

Shirley Malcom is the Director of SEA Change and a Senior Advisor for AAAS. In this position she works to improve the quality of and increase access to education and careers in STEMM.

Dr. Malcom is a trustee of Caltech, a regent of Morgan State University and a former member of the National Science Board, the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Malcom chaired the NASEM Committee on Barriers and Opportunities to 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degree Completion. She serves on the boards of the Heinz Endowments, Public Agenda, the National Math-Science Initiative and Digital Promise. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy.

Dr Karen Salt is the Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights at the University of Nottingham. She is an expert on sovereignty, politics and the ways that discourses regarding difference influence narratives, decision-making and systems of governance. Years of considering the impact of racial and political discourses in the Atlantic world has led to a broader interest in the ways global minority communities marshal their collective power and participate in local, national and international governance structures. She continues to advise and research these topics, especially as they relate to inclusive practices and racial equity, with organisations. She is also a member of Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Advisory Board.

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