Welcome to the first EDI blog post, which will introduce the activity of the EDI Working Group and explain how the initiative came about.

The SIS has undertaken a major new EDI initiative, with the aim of making our community as welcoming and as supportive as possible to all members. This initiative began in September 2020, when a short-term working group was formed. This group was tasked with coming up with recommendations for actions to be carried out by a longer-term working group, and guidance on how to form that group.

The recommendations were shared at the Executive Committee meeting and Annual General Meeting in January 2021, and the initiative was formally launched with an event featuring guest speakers with experience in EDI work (Dr Jonathan Saha, co-chair of the Royal Historical Society’s Race, Ethnicity and Equality Working Group, and the leads of the American Association of Italian Studies Anti-Racism Task Force). We launched an open call for expressions of interest to join the working group to all SIS members. 23 members have joined the group to date and are working on the following actions:

  1. Explore the possibility of carrying out a survey or audit of members
  2. Support faculty and students to produce videos for use in school recruitment that are specifically tailored to a widening participation agenda.
  3. Produce good guidance documents and policies on key practices and topics for members
  4. Support attendance at SIS conferences and events for scholars from the Global South. Commit to championing diversity in choice of keynote, guest and plenary speakers at SIS sponsored events
  5. Create a resources hub on the website to host guidance documents and scholarship on decolonization and diversity work in Italian Studies and make the website look representative of a more diverse, inclusive Italy.
  6. Celebrate excellence and innovation in curriculum reform and/or scholarship through awards from the SIS.

The working group is time-limited to 24 months (January 2021-January 2023) and is formed of sub-groups who take ownership of particular goals. So far, we have produced policies on event planning and conference conduct. We have established an EDI Excellence Award, and set up funding to facilitate conference and event attendance. With the help of Emanuela Patti, we have begun to create an EDI hub on the website, where you can find policies, activities and resources, which will updated regularly. We have also worded the following values statement which guides our work:

The Society for Italian Studies is taking positive action towards making our community as welcoming and supportive as possible. We believe that all SIS members and participants at SIS sponsored events should be equally respected and valued, regardless of age, ability, career stage, class, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. We commit to promoting and modelling equality, diversity and inclusivity across the full remit of our activity.

We welcome ideas for future blogs on all EDI related news and activities, and are always open to new members who would like to contribute to the working group. Please get in touch with me in either instance, or to share your comments and ideas: efb@st-andrews.ac.uk