Faculty of Law

In ensuring that ‘an inclusive culture which promotes equality [and] values diversity’ is fostered, the Law Faculty has created the post of Associate Dean (Equality and Diversity), held by a member of Faculty academic staff. The Associate Dean chairs the Faculty’s Equality and Diversity Committee and has overall responsibility for the promotion of equality and diversity throughout the Faculty’s activities.

The Associate Dean post incorporates and continues the work associated with two previously free-standing posts: the Athena SWAN Co-ordinator (responsible for overseeing the Athena SWAN process and the Faculty’s Athena SWAN renewal application) and the Race Equality Co-ordinator (responsible for promoting awareness of diversity and equality in race issues within the Faculty and for advising the Faculty on these matters). The Associate Dean is supported in their work by a dedicated member of the Faculty administrative staff (the Allen and Overy Equality and Diversity Officer) whose post – created in 2020 – is funded by a City law firm. 

The following four initiatives undertaken in relation to race are worth special mention.  

First, in May 2019, a workshop on ‘Diversifying the Curriculum’ was organised by the Law Faculty. The various conceptualisations of ‘diversifying the curriculum’ were discussed, and experiences shared by colleagues from other faculties and universities where curriculum re-design has taken place. In light of this, potentials and obstacles for the Law Faculty in taking steps towards diversification of the curriculum were discussed, and the Race Equality Co-ordinator set in play a ‘curriculum health check’ exercise which has produced a guide to good practice in relation to development of the curriculum. While this remains a matter for ongoing discussion within the Law Faculty, concrete progress has clearly been made. 

Secondly, in order to promote a forum for debates on de-colonisation and the law more specifically, a discussion group was created in Trinity Term 2019. The Group, which was hitherto run by the Race Equality Coordinator and graduate students, meets termly and welcomes speakers from all disciplines and career-levels to present research on interlinks between de-colonisation and the law. 

Thirdly, to support a broad network of visiting academics, the Faculty has partnered with the Africa Oxford Initiative and various Oxford colleges to create the AfOx Law Fellowship. This Fellowship invites academics, holding a full-time position in an African institution, to spend time in Oxford to make use of the Faculty’s research facilities and carry out research. The 2019 AfOx Law Fellow was Dr Joel Modiri, who works on race theory in jurisprudence; Dr Emile Sunjo was selected for 2020, but his arrival has been deferred by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fourthly, the Faculty announced on 24th September 2020 the creation of four scholarships for UK Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) doctoral candidates in Law, in association with Christ Church, Magdalen, Merton and New College. These needs-based scholarships will provide full Home fees and maintenance for three years, are among initiatives undertaken as part of the University’s Race Equality Charter, and will be available in the cases of Christ Church and Merton from October 2021 and in the cases of Magdalen and New College from October 2022. The scholarships build on a model pioneered for October 2020 by the Centre for Criminology in Association with Brasenose College.

These initiatives constitute central parts of a broader programme of activity relating to race and equality which was approved by the Law Faculty Board at its meeting of 16th June 2020, and which provides a concrete and ambitious agenda for the Equality and Diversity Committee and for the Associate Dean. The recent appointment of the Allen and Overy Equality and Diversity Officer will be of enormous assistance in the pursuit of that agenda.