New think tank on diversity and community engagement to be launched at University of Leicester during Black History Month

Posted by ap507 at Oct 14, 2015 11:15 AM |
Lord Ouseley to deliver foundation lecture for the new Unit for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement on Thursday 22 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 October 2015

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A new think-tank tackling issues relating to diversity, inclusion, migration, integration, race and religion is to be launched at the University of Leicester with a lecture by Lord Ouseley who is at the forefront of challenging institutional racism in organisations in Britain and is a former Chair and chief executive of the Commission for Racial Equality.

The new development in the Department of Sociology, the Unit for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE), is being spearheaded jointly by Leicester sociologist John Williams and Surinder Sharma –Professor Sharma has worked in the diversity field for over 30 years, gaining a reputation for success and excellence along the way, and is National Director for Equality and Human Rights at the Department of Health.

Lord Ouseley will deliver a lecture on Living in a Diverse Britain: Aspiration, Fears and Different Realities on Thursday 22 October, 6.00pm, at the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building, South Wing, University of Leicester. It has already attracted huge support from diverse communities in the city.

The event takes place during national Black History Month and is part of a range of activities organised by the University of Leicester.  The new unit will also partner with BBC Radio Leicester in future events on multiculturalism.

John Williams said:  “The city of Leicester is regarded internationally as something of a model of civic multiculturalism. Against the wider background of accelerating diversity, in-migration and social change – and as new priorities and tensions around migration, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexuality, faith and difference come to the fore – the University of Leicester should be, and now rightly will be, at the very heart of such debates.  We see the new unit establishing an audible public voice on such matters; acting as a hub for intelligent debate, routinely matching practitioners and policy makers with leading academics on campus.

“The new unit will enhance the distinctiveness of the University of Leicester’s internationally-renowned research in these areas and bring local people more directly in contact with wide-ranging academic and policy debates about life in the complex society that is multi-faith and multi-ethnic Britain today.”

Surinder Sharma, who has taken on the role of a Research Fellow in the department, is initially establishing an advisory group for the unit, made up of key opinion leaders and community representatives from the city, county and nationally.  He said: “This is a very exciting development at the University of Leicester.

“Matters of diversity and inclusion continue routinely to be at the centre of current public and political debate. They also remain to be among the core priorities for private sector interests, government, voluntary sector and the media.  As part of the University’s commitment to community engagement, this new unit will work more effectively on projects and events with local organisations and representatives of different communities in the city, county and beyond, thus raising the local profile of research and engagement activities at the University. Moreover, given Leicester’s multicultural and diverse populace, local engagement in this environment ultimately provides a platform for global engagement.

“We aim to establish dynamic new partnerships and networks with businesses, Government, local authorities, public sector agencies, charities and other bodies. We see policy-based engagement, commentary, consultation, development and training as key elements of the unit’s work and fund-raising activities, allied to more theoretical contemplations, in line with the research excellence agenda of the University of Leicester.”

A number of Leicester sociologists are involved with the new Unit: John Williams is   academic lead for the unit, with a number of other staff from Sociology Jason Hughes, John Goodwin, Henrietta O’Connor, Bob Carter, David Bartram, Leah Bassell and Pierre Monforte also involved.

You can find out more about DICE here:

Booking link for lecture by Lord Ouseley on Thursday 22 October at 6pm:



For more information please contact:

Professor Surinder Sharma,

University of Leicester,

Unit for Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement (DICE), Department of Sociology, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH,

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