The Award, created in response to DMU winning The Sunday Times University of the Year for Social Inclusion, as a way of acknowledging how students contribute to producing inclusive learning environments.
A group, led by students to drive conversations around race, social justice and class has been praised as a shining example. Their fortnightly reading group has attracted staff and students from all over the university, discussing topics and issues raised by Akala’s Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.
Founders Florence Lamptey, Anthony (Tomi) Ilesanmi (pictured above), Melody Nich and Assiah Hamed were given the inaugural Politics and Public Policy Student Prize for Social Inclusion.
More than 30 people are members of the group and each session is led by the students who introduce the topics and facilitate the conversation.
Politics student Anthony Ilesanmi said: “We’d always had conversations about the various topics within the book, and setting up the reading group came from that.
“It gets so many people talking about their experiences. We’re only meant to have two hours but it can go on a lot longer because we all get into it. We make it interactive.”
Florence Lamptey, whose work examines reasons why black students don’t achieve their full potential in higher education, said the reading group might be extra-curricular but she looked forward to the group every meeting.
She said: “I’m so into the subject, and the issues around it, I’m excited about it every single meeting. It’s outside of class time but we all enjoy it and it keeps the conversation going.”
Dr Kennetta Hammond Perry, Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, said: “It has been a highlight of my introduction to DMU to see students leading engaging discussions about race, racism and social justice. These students have created a critical platform to raise questions, debate ideas and find common ground”.
“We wanted to recognise the fact that students are why DMU was named University of the Year for Social Inclusion,” said Dr Ben Whitham, lecturer in International Politics.
Dr Marco Checchi, lecturer in Business and Management, said: “The reading group has been the highlight of my academic year! These students created a space for critical reflection and open discussion on race, class and the legacy of the British Empire.
“They engaged all people who attended, including them in a collective process of crafting knowledge through lived experiences and theory. I have learnt a lot from them!”