Trinity has hired Dr Philomena Mullen as an assistant professor responsible for leading a new Black Studies module.
An email sent today, signed by Provost Patrick Prendergast and Associate Vice Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Prof Clodagh Brook told staff and students that “Dr Mullen will bring her lived experience, advocacy and research to the role”.
College earlier this year decided to launch a Black Studies module as a Trinity Elective in response to a College-wide campaign earlier this year for the introduction of such a module – following the killing of George Floyd in May.
The email also stated: “We are following up on our email of 5th June in which we expressed our horror at the racial injustice made visible by the killing of George Floyd.”
“At that point, we renewed our own institutional commitment to addressing race and ethnicity, continuing to put resources, energy and time to ensuring Trinity a place that is welcoming to all, one where all members of our community can thrive.”
“We committed too in June to structural change, recognising that racism is systemic. Addressing systemic racism will take time. It will take self-examination by each of us as individuals, and it will require an institutional effort throughout the whole College.”
Details of when the module will become available have yet to be announced.
The email also drew attention to the recently launched Inclusive Curriculum project. The project aims to make education in Trinity more accessible and inclusive for students. Prendergast and Brook acknowledged that “decolonialising the curriculum will form an important part of its work.”
Prendergast announced in June that the module would be developed following the launch of an online petition calling for the introduction of a Black Studies module within the College following anti-racism protests across the world in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Within 24 hours of the petition’s launch, it had received over 1,000 signatures.
In a post on the campaign Facebook page, the campaign’s managers, Jennifer Waters and Claire Stalhuth, said that the announcement was “only the first step”.
“While historic, this is only a 5 ECT optional elective module. Without further action to dismantle systemic racism, this is simply a congratulatory footnote, a blip in history.”
“Normally, electives require a 18 month lead in, but the University is working to try and offer the module by Hilary term of 2021.”
“Vocally demanding the module is important, but it is imperative that you enroll in the module itself.”
“It is our responsibility to enact anti-racist change. We’re the ones in the institutions: we must change them and leave them better than when we walked in their doors”, they added.
The petition was signed by over 2,800 people and over 25 societies endorsed it.