Laura Mowat, Express, July 17, 2017
King’s College London has revealed plans to install a “wall of diversity” after calls to make the institute less “alienating”.
Academics voiced their concern the current pictures in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience are too “intimidating” for ethnic minorities.
They want the pictures to be replaced with more Black and Minority Ethic scholars in a move described as “political correctness gone mad” by the president of the King’s Conservative Association, Sam Barrett.
Professor Patrick Leman unveiled the proposals saying the faculty should not just be filled with “busts of 1920s bearded men” but also more modern scholars.
Professor Leman said the portraits are “almost entirely white middle-aged men” and will be replaced with a “wall of diversity”.
Teaching materials, such as diagrams of the human anatomy, will also be adapted to include a “range of ethnic groups”.
He said: “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.
“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.
“We are making sure that the space in which students learn doesn’t just have the busts of the bearded 1920s men, but also has pictures of people from different ethnic groups, different cultures.
“It’s not that we’re throwing anything into the bin.”
A spokeswoman for the university said the current busts and portraits would remain, but a new gallery would be added, while an exhibition of women would be moved to more prominent positions.
Mr Barrett said: “It’s a de-colonisation of the curriculum. Any sort of view that some students disagree with – if you shout loudly enough the university will react to it.
“Some students clearly have a problem with being taught by a white man – that’s the reality of it. If that person who knows their subject is white, why should that matter?”
A spokeswoman for the university said: “King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) is immensely proud of its history and recognises the contribution of its founders and the eminent scientists who have made it the world class institution it is today. It has no plans to move or remove its Deans’ Gallery of painted portraits or the busts of its founders Dr Henry Maudsley and Sir Frederick Mott.
“It is important however that we celebrate our diverse and international community alongside our history. One of these initiatives is our ‘Inspiring Women – Professors at the IoPPN’ photographic portrait exhibition which comprises over 31 women professors and is located near the main reception. This is likely to be relocated across the Institute in prominent places in the relevant departments.
“In its place, the IoPPN is considering a new photographic exhibition provisionally entitled ‘Portraits of a Global Diverse Institute’ and featuring a series of photographic portraits of IoPPN staff, students and alumni. This project is very much in the early stages and will be created in collaboration with staff, students and alumni. In addition, the winners of the social media competition #myioppn, where staff and students have submitted photographs capturing all the diverse aspects of life at the IoPPN, will have their submissions featured prominently in the staff and student canteen.”