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Game of clones – it’s who you know

GuestBlogger12 December 2016

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Written by Lucy Jordan, Communications Officer, UCL Psychology and Language Sciences

Why does it matter that we pick friends who are the same as us? Dr Katherine Woolf, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education at UCL, conducts research into fitting in and belonging and wants to know just this. As human beings, we need to belong and form interpersonal attachments. These bonds are of utmost importance for our happiness, success and health, but why are they, for the most part, to those so like ourselves? And what are the ramifications of this?

The audience is asked to think of a close friend who we have spoken to in the last few days and consider whether that friend has the same gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion and level of education as us. The majority chose someone with whom they have much overlap in these areas.

“I’ve done this exercise with lots of people all over the country, many times,” said Dr Woolf “and this is what we always see – people tend to be friends with people that they have lots in common with, and that in sociology is called homophily.”

Game of Clones

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Why isn’t my professor black?

GuestBlogger21 March 2014

Members of the event panel

Members of the event panel
Photo: Rachna Kayastha

pencil-iconWritten By Jamilah Jahi (UCL Medical Student)

After three years of studying at UCL, I can count the number of black lecturers who have taught me on one hand: zero.

Perhaps this is not alarming, after all, black people are a minority ethnic group in the UK. Surely we should expect low numbers amongst our teaching staff too. Is it, therefore, acceptable that only 0.4% of professors in the UK are black? At least six black academics disagree.

On 10 March 2014, UCL hosted the live panel discussion, ‘Why isn’t my Professor Black?’ It was clear that many were longing for an answer to this “interesting but depressing” question. Due to popular demand, the event had to be relocated to the Cruciform lecture theatre, which holds just under 350 people.

Professor Michael Arthur, UCL’s President & Provost, chaired the event. Sitting on the panel were black academics from across the UK, including UCL’s Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, who organised the event.

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Still “crazy” after all these years?

GuestBlogger10 March 2014

diversity-month2014pencil-iconWritten by Danelle Pettman (UCL Psychiatry)

Dr Claire Henderson’s talk ‘Still “crazy” after all these years? How public attitudes to mental health have changed over time’ began with the unusual request of asking the audience to get on their feet.

She asked us to imagine that we were experiencing a current episode of mental illness and then asked us to sit back down only if we would tell our partners and family about it. I remained standing as I imagined telling my mum and boyfriend; a few others sat.

Then, she invited us to sit if we would tell our friends. I was still standing but it was more a hover as I went through my friends and decided which ones I would tell; a few more in the room sat.

Finally she invited us to sit if we would share news of our mental health problem with the people in our workplace; this was answered with a large thud as the majority of the audience (including me) sat down.

This simple exercise highlighted the stigmatisation of mental illness, in this case anticipatory, that Dr Henderson and her colleges aim to study.

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Has multiculturalism failed?

newseditor17 December 2012

Written by Daniel Bowman, UCL Union Debating Society committee member.

In an increasingly globalised world, how do we balance national and multiple identities? It is one of the most fundamental questions for the 21st century society.

Bonnie Greer

Bonnie Greer

The national debate on multiculturalism reached unprecedented levels of intensity when, in 2011, David Cameron announced in a speech that the “state multiculturalism” had failed, and that Britain needed a stronger national identity. The UCLU Debating Society was honoured to host an exceptional panel on 10 December to debate whether it has, indeed, failed.

Arguing that multiculturalism has failed were Nazir Azfal OBE, the Chief Prosecutor of the North West for the Crown Prosecution Service; Ayub Hanif, a UCL doctoral student and former president of the Debating Society; and Kenan Malik, the writer, lecturer and broadcaster.

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