20 Jul 2017

Kings College Replaces Portraits of White Founders With “Wall of Diversity”

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Sir Frederick Mott and Sir Henry Maudsley founded the Institute of Psychiatry in 1924.

Telegraph:

King’s College London is to swap portraits of some of its founding fathers with a “wall of diversity” amid pressure from students, a dean says.

The plans to move portraits of former faculty staff from the main entrance wall and replace them with more BME [“Black and Minority Ethnic”] scholars are being implemented by the world famous Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, following concern among academics that the current classroom environment is too “intimidating” for ethnic minorities.

The proposals were unveiled by Professor Patrick Leman, the Institute’s dean of education, who said that the faculty should not just be filled with “busts of 1920s bearded men” but rather more modern, diverse scholars so that the Institute feels less “alienating”.

Founded in 1924 as a hospital medical school, the Institute owes its existence to a donation from Dr Henry Maudsley, a pioneering British psychiatrist, and neurologist Sir Frederick Mott, who drew up plans for university courses for training in the field of psychiatry in 1896.

Their busts, which are believed to be the subject of Professor Leman’s remarks, were placed in the Institute in recognition of their work.

It comes two years after King’s sparked controversy for removing a photograph of Lord Carey, the former of Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to his opposition to gay marriage.

Facing widespread criticism at the time, the university defended its review of a “window display policy” on the grounds that some images had been unrepresentative of the “diversity of our university community”.

Professor Leman, who describes himself as “tribal Labour” in blogs, added that portraits lining the main entrance are “almost entirely white middle-aged men” and will be replaced with a “wall of diversity”.

He added that all current portraits of former deans would be “taken down” and rehung, with some being placed in less prominent positions, in comments that could be interpreted as them being sidelined by the Institute.

Meanwhile, teaching materials, such as diagrams of the human anatomy, will be changed to feature a “range of ethnic groups”, rather than just the “standard white male”.

Prof Leman said the plans had been backed by the faculty’s student body, which has been “exceptionally good” in pushing for a diversification of the curriculum.

“We’re trying to reflect the diversity in terms of students we have, but also trying to be more inter-cultural, more international in terms of how we develop the science,” he told The Telegraph.

“A great deal of medical, psychological research has been of white, male, North American or European students…so increasingly we try and broaden it to include more recent research from Asia, Africa, and from other parts of the world.

RTWT

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