Kingâ€™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 â€œintimidatingâ€ for ethnic minorities.
The proposals were unveiled by Professor Patrick Leman, the Instituteâ€™s dean of education, who said that the faculty should not just be filled with â€œbusts of 1920s bearded menâ€ but rather more modern, diverse scholars so that the Institute feels less â€œalienatingâ€.
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 Lemanâ€™s remarks, were placed in the Institute in recognition of their work.
It comes two years after Kingâ€™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 â€œwindow display policyâ€ on the grounds that some images had been unrepresentative of the “diversity of our university community”.
Professor Leman, who describes himself as â€œtribal Labourâ€ in blogs, added that portraits lining the main entrance are â€œalmost entirely white middle-aged menâ€ and will be replaced with a â€œwall of diversityâ€.
He added that all current portraits of former deans would be â€œtaken downâ€ 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 â€œrange of ethnic groupsâ€, rather than just the â€œstandard white maleâ€.
Prof Leman said the plans had been backed by the facultyâ€™s student body, which has been â€œexceptionally goodâ€ in pushing for a diversification of the curriculum.
â€œWeâ€™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,â€ he told The Telegraph.
â€œA 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.
20 Jul 2017