I met with Babs, the Senior Administrative Officer on the PsychD programme. We had some time to speak about issues surrounding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), but more specifically the EDI book club that she co-leads.
Babs has been working at the university for nearly 6 years now, having worked in the PsychD department the whole time. There were a few members of staff who initially discussed starting a book club in 2017, for people interested in psychology. The idea developed from there and became more consistent as time went on, including over lockdown moved onto virtual meetings.
The switch to an EDI focus came after George Floyd’s murder, as the book club focused on reading books around race and racism and later expanded this to include more areas of difference and diversity e.g. sexuality, gender, and disability. This consideration and changed focus to a variety of EDI topics happened organically as the member’s growing awareness of the importance of EDI topics increased.
What does the book club look like? What is the structure of the sessions?
The sessions usually have around 5-6 members of the book club present, this includes varied individuals who are connected to the PsychD course (e.g. trainees, staff, administrators, service users and carers).
At the start of sessions they will often go round and get everyone’s initial thoughts on the book, having a think about any particular questions that came up for anyone. This tends to naturally lead into some of the more important discussion points. At the end of the discussion everyone will give the book a rating out of 10 and an explanation for their rating. They will also consider what their next book should be, having a think about what they haven’t had a chance to speak about.
The space feels containing, open and non-judgemental to discuss different perspectives or opinions that come up for everyone. They are always looking for new members to join to get fresh ideas into the group.
What impact has the book club had on you?
In terms of personal changes it has deepened passions and interest in EDI work. Professionally it helps with making connections to people, building rapport, having more empathy and being aware of biases. It acts as a reminder that everyone has their ups and downs, that we’re all humans at the end of the day.
What would you say to encourage new people to join?
It’s a unique space to be able to explore EDI-related topics in a group of non-judgemental and like-minded people. Everyone in the group has a keen interest in equality and there will always be a psychology stance to the discussions also. It helps to deepen understanding around the importance of understanding difference particularly within psychology. Understanding a different aspect of life and a different experience. That differences should be celebrated, but also noted – this helps as a reminder that an intervention that works for one person will not work for everyone.